Ryland Peter Cooder is the quintessential American Music iconoclast who spent more of his career creatively south of the border. Early American jazz and blues, Tex-Mex, Hawaiian, Cooder loved them all and delved deeply into each. A slide guitarist comparable to peers Duane Allman
and Mick Taylor
, it was Cooder who turned Keith Richards on to the open-G tuning that resulted in "Honky Tonk Women," and by extension "Street Fighting Man" and "Brown Sugar." Cooder had a string of eccentric, if not compelling, albums and became well known for his movie soundtracks, with include The Long Riders
(United Artists, 1980), Paris, Texas
(20th Century Fox, 1984) and Last Man Standing
(New Line Cinema, 1996).
The better part of the last 20 years Cooder has devoted himself to the musics of Cuba and Mexico. He has effectively assimilated those influences into his rare performances, one which was captured at the Great American Music Hall, located in the heart of the beautifully seedy and squalid Tenderloin District of San Francisco in late August - early September 2011. This was the first officially-released Cooder live recording since 1977's Show Time
(Warner Brothers). Cooder reprises several of Show Time
's songs on his current Ry Cooder & Corridos FamososLive in San Francisco
with a huge Mariachi band and Flaco Jimenez on accordion and Cooder vocal stalwarts Terry Evans
and Arnold mcculler
Cooder's revue opens with a gritty "Crazy 'Bout an Automobile," propelled by the guitarist's dense and popping slide work. Cooder's plucky right hand lays out 60 years of guitar music in the opening 15 seconds. He sounds like Professor Longhair
playing slide guitar. His control of the momentum of the piece resembles the same control he had on John Hiatt
's "Memphis in the Meantime" from Bring The Family
(A&M, 1987). When reaching full gale, Cooder demonstrates his mettle. The presences of a Mariachi horn section on steroids bolsters the big sound the band achieves.
And so the entire recording goes: Cooder deftly combines a dozen traditions into a melting pot of music spanning the best part of his 40 year career. Woody Guthrie's "Do, Re, Mi" from Cooder's 1970 eponymous first recording (Reprise) is joined with Guthrie's "Vigilante Man" from Into The Purple Valley
(Reprise, 1972), "Dark End of the Street" and "Boomer's Story" from Boomer's Story
(Reprise, 1972) and "Crazy 'Bout An Automobile" from Borderline
(Platinum Records, 1980) to ""El Corrido de Jesse James" from 2011's Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down
(Nonesuch) give a good idea what drives Cooder's creativity.
Like his colleagues, Little Feat, Cooder is a master in concert, obviously having fun and producing superlative music. This live recording is no exception.
Crazy ’Bout an Automobile; Why Don’t You Try Me; Boomer’s Story; Lord
Tell Me Why; Do Re Mi; School Is Out; The Dark End of the Street; El
Corrido de Jesse James; Wooly Bully; Volver Volver; Vigilante Man.
Ry Cooder: vocals: guitar; Terry Evans: vocals; Arnold McCuller:
vocals; Juliette Commagere: vocals; Joachim Cooder: drums; Robert
Francis: bass; Flaco Jimenez: accordion; Edgar Castro: timbale, snare;
Everardo Rodriguez: bass drum; Pablo Molina: sousaphone; Carlos
“Carlitos” Gonzalez: trumpet; Arturo Gallardo: clarinet, alto sax,
bass sax; Julian Diaz: trumpet; Abel Guerra: trombone; Alonso Chavez:
alto horn; Gilberto Carbajal: trumpet; Willie Jimenez: clarinet.