I'm going to add to the chorus of approval given this dinky and brill little box set and add a few more details.
Having had it a few weeks now and listened to all the discs - I estimate that most of the first 7 are REMASTERS with the remainder sounding like those CDs already issued - which sound great anyway. His huge hit album "Bop Til You Drop" from 1979 was the world's first all-digital recording and has always sounded clean if not a little flat somehow. The CD here is definitely not the "UFO Has Landed" remaster (see separate review) - but - with a judicious amount of volume - it does sound lovely anyway. Here's the breakdown of what's on offer and what's missing...
Ry Cooder - "1970 - 1987" was released Monday 11 November 2013 on Warner Brothers 8122796241 and is an 11CD mini box set with each album in 5" repro card sleeves as follows:
Disc 1 (30:13 minutes): 1. Alimony 2. France Chance 3. One Meat Ball 4. Do Re Mi 5. Old Kentucky Home 6. How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live? 7. Available Space 8. Pig Meat 9. Police Dog Blues 10. Goin' To Brownsville 11. Dark Is The Night Tracks 1 to 11 are his debut solo LP "Ry Cooder" (December 1970)
Disc 2 (37:46 minutes): 1. How Can You Keep Moving (Unless You Migrate Too) 2. Billy The Kid 3. Money Honey 4. F.D.R. In Trinidad 5. Teardrops Will Fall 6. Denomination Blues 7. On A Monday 8. Hey Porter 9. Great Dreams From Heaven 10. Taxes On The Farmer Feed Us All 11. Vigilante Man Tracks 1 to 11 are his 2nd album "Into The Purple Valley" (February 1972)
Disc 3 (39:07 minutes): 1. Boomer's Story 2. Cherry Ball Blues 3. Crow Black Chicken 4. Ax Sweet Mama 5. Maria Elena 6. Dark End Of The Street 7. Rally `Round The Flag 8. Comin' In On A Wing And A Prayer 9. President Kentucky 10. Good Morning Mr. Railroad Man Tracks 1 to 10 are his 3rd album "Boomer' Story" (November 1972)
Disc 4 (37:22 minutes): 1. Tamp `Em Up Solid 2. Married Man's A Fool 3. Jesus On The Mainline 4. It's All Over Now 5. Medley: Fool For A Cigarette/Feelin' Good 6. If Walls Could Talk 7. Mexican Divorce 8. Ditty Wah Ditty Tracks 1 to 8 are his 4th album "Paradise And Lunch" (May 1974)
Disc 5 (39:59 minutes): 1. The Bourgeois Blues 2. I Got Mine 3. Always Lift Him Up 4. He'll Have To Go 5. Smack Dab In The Middle 6. Stand By Me 7. Yellow Roses 8. Chloe 9. Goodnight Irene Tracks 1 to 9 are his 5th album "Chicken Skin Music" (October 1976)
Disc 6 (43:57 minutes): 1. School Is Out 2. Alimony 3. Jesus On The Mainline 4. The Dark End Of The Street 5. Viva Sequin/Do Re Mi 6. Volver, Volver 7. How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live 8. Smack Dab In The Middle Tracks 1 to 8 are his 6th LP "Show Time" Note Track 1 "School Is Out" is a Studio song - the rest is live recorded 14 and 15 December 1976 at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco and credited to RY COODER/CHICKEN SKIN REVUE
Disc 7 (38:28 minutes): 1. Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now 2. Face To Face That I Shall Meet Him 3. The Pearls/Tia Juana 4. The Dream 5. Happy Meeting In Glory 6. In A Mist 7. Flashes 8. Davenport Blues 9. Shine 10. Nobody 11. We Shall Be Happy Tracks 1 to 11 are the album "Jazz" (June 1978)
Disc 8 (40:12 minutes): 1. Little Sister 2. Go Home, Girl 3. The Very Thing That Makes You Rich 4. I Think It's Going To Work Out Fine 5. Down In Hollywood 6. Look At Granny Run Run 7. Trouble You Can't Fool Me 8. Don't You Mess Up A Good Thing 9. I Can't Win Tracks 1 to 9 are the album "Bop Till You Drop" (July 1979)
Disc 9 (44:06 minutes): 1. 634-5789 2. Why Don't You Try Me 3. Down In The Boondocks 4. Johnny Porter 5. The Way We Make A Broken Heart 6. Crazy `Bout An Automobile 7. The Girls from Texas 8. Borderline 9. Never Make Your Move Too Soon Tracks 1 to 9 are the album "Borderline" (October 1980)
Disc 10 (39:18 minutes): 1. UFO Has Landed In The Ghetto 2. I Need A Woman 3. Gypsy Woman 4. Blue Suede Shoes 5. Mama, Don't Treat Your Daughter Mean 6. I'm Drinking Again 7. Which Came First 8. That's The Way Love Turned Out For Me Tracks 1 to 8 are the album "The Slide Area" (April 1982)
Disc 11 (40:52 minutes): 1. Get Rhythm 2. Low--Commotion 3. Going Back To Okinawa 4. 13 Question Method 5. Women Will Rule The World 6. All Shook Up 7. I Can Tell By The Way You Smell 8. Across The Border Line 9. Let's Have A Ball Tracks 1 to 9 are the album "Get Rhythm" (December 1987)
The CD labels reflect the original vinyl issues - 1 to 5 are the Riverboat Tan design, 6 is the Burbank Trees design and the rest the cream Warner Brothers issues (nice attention to detail). Of all the repro card sleeves only "Into The Purple Valley" is a gatefold (all the others were single sleeve issues anyway) but a few like "Boomer's Story" are missing inserts. I say this because apart from the almost unreadable album covers - there's little info to go on (no booklet) and on hearing this fantastic trawl through Americana, Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Texmex and old time Blues - you desperately want to know more about the song origins. Most of the info is available on the net of course, but it would have put this groovy box set into the stratosphere if if had been given a little bit more effort on the presentation front.
You also notice the gaps - "The Long Riders" soundtrack from 1980 is missing as is the fabulous "Paris, Texas" from 1985. But what is here is just so consistently good. Admittedly when you get to "Borderline" and "The Slide Area" the quality control had begin to taper off (as had sales) which is what made the rollicking "Get Rhythm" from 1987 such a huge hit and return to form.
I'd like to point out that for fans the real gems in here are "Boomer's Story", "Paradise And Lunch" and "Chicken Skin Music" which are beautiful sounding now. The gorgeous Mexican-feel instrumental "Marie Elena" on "Boomer's Story" has been a rave of mine for years - the wicked combo of "Fool For A Cigarette/Feelin' Good" is fabulous fun too and his warbling accordion version of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" on "Chicken Skin Music" is so touching - a wonderfully moving reinterpretation. The old-timey Woody Guthrie feel to the instrumental "Great Dream From Heaven" on "In The Purple Valley" is the kind of gem that litters these albums - its so simple yet so effecting - his playing so sympathetic to the material throughout.
Great stuff - and at a little over two quid per album - a bit of a steal frankly in a sea of overpriced and stodgy Anniversary reissues.
His cover of Howard Tate's "Look At Granny Run Run" on "Bop..." always brings a smile to my face (lyrics to it title this review) and is a good reason to include this boogieing little gem in the Christmas stocking of someone you love this Yuletide...