Wey hey hey...at long last Ry Cooder returns to electric slide. After over 20 years of unbelievably eclectic musical wanderings, and in spite of this being labelled a 'concept' album and the final instalment of the California trilogy that began with the brilliant "Chavez Ravine", this is in many senses a follow-up to 1987's "Get Rhythm", and is none the worse for it.
Delving into a variety of musical genres well-trodden by Cooder over the years - such as the rock'n'roll of "Ridin' With The Blues" "Drive Like I Never Been Hurt" and "Pink-O Boogie", the 1940's influenced "Steel Guitar Heaven" "Filipino Dance Hall Girl" and "Spayed Kooley", the world music of "Fernando Sez" and the film noir of "Can I Smoke In Here", not to mention the inspiringly titled ballad "My Dwarf Is Getting Tired", this album touches all Cooder's familiar bases and sounds like it was a real labour of love from start to finish.
As someone who was largely disappointed by his previous "My Name Is Buddy" album, this is a stunning return to form and is probably my favourite album of 2008. Where does he go from here? That'll be interesting.
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