Collection includes: 'Ry Cooder' (1970) # 7599-27510-2, 'Into the Purple Valley' (1971) # 7599-27200-2, 'Boomer's Story' (1972) # 7599-26398-2.
The first multi-label spanning, American released Ry Cooder compilation does its best to present a coherent portrait of a musician whose wildly eclectic recordings and broad, four decade (and counting) list of releases makes that job all but impossible.
With 1980's Borderline, Ry Cooder followed the foray into R&B and soul of his previous effort, Bop Till You Drop, but this time out with a little shot of the Southwest thrown in. At the same time, he also continues the primarily electric sound of that record. As far as his selection of material goes, Borderline may sometimes lack the surprising, esoteric charm of his earlier recordings, but there are still some terrific finds, including the Tex-Mex-flavored "The Girls from Texas," which may be the album's finest moment. Other highlights include one of John Hiatt's best, the written-to-order "The Way We Make a Broken Heart," as well as Billy "The Kid" Emerson's "Crazy 'Bout an Automobile," which Cooder had been performing live for a number of years, and the soulful Maurice & Mac treasure "Why Don't You Try Me." And while it's moments like these that help make Cooder's records special, he also takes on some better-known '50s and '60s offerings with moderate success.
The risk in writing political songs, especially about specific issues and historical periods, is that over time, those that are run of the mill become dated. Not everyone can write timeless tunes like Woody Guthrie, Sam Cooke, John Lennon, and Bob Marley. Given the content of Election Special, Ry Cooder knew the risks going in and welcomed them. Using American traditional musics – raw blues, folk, and roots rock – Cooder's songs express what he considers to be, as both an artist and a pissed-off citizen, the high-stakes historical gamble of the 2012 presidential and congressional contest.
"The Musician's Musician". "The Master of the Eclectic". There are probably a dozen more titles by which this "guitar player" is known. To even refer to him as a guitar player is probably a gross mislabeling of this musician. He defies any sort of categorization; this is his greatest strength and for some his weakness. The theme for these nine cuts is rhythm of all different ilk. I won't even give the parameters because he seems to have none. I wondered how many different instruments he played on this album (I thought I counted five different types of guitar); it only says guitar and vocal for his credits. Listen to his version of "All Shook Up," more bop and rhythm than Elvis could put into four of his songs. It seems musicians line up to play with him, and they feel he did them a favor by letting them play on his albums. He always gives them plenty of space to do what they do. This CD will make the dead start tapping their toes.
Beginning with his self-titled debut in 1970, Ry Cooder's records seemed to be as much history lesson as they were entertainment. Not because Cooder was trying to club you over the head with this stuff; he simply gravitated to great songs, no matter what the era or genre. Released in 1978, Jazz seems to be his first conscious attempt at a concept album, in the historical sense. Here he pays homage to some of the early tunes and masters of jazz, ranging from the late 1800s through the "coon songs" of the early part of the next century, to the ragtime and "Spanish" music of Jelly Roll Morton, and the sophistication of cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. The only living artist (at the time of release) who's represented here is the great Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence, who recorded from the '50s through the '80s, and whose syncopated style was extremely influential in Cooder's own development as a guitarist.