Even without releasing the covers album, Bop Till You Drop, in 1979, Ry Cooder was already a formidable musician steeped in the blues with a Tex-Mex feel. His ’70s albums such as Into The Purple Valley, Boomer’s Story, Paradise And Lunch and Chicken Skin Music are classics but Bop Till You Drop, the first major-label digitally recorded album of pop music, put Cooder right in the spotlight.
Just as we are now pondering if the physical media (CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays) is coming to an end, at that time, the Bop Till You Drop CD – just as Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms – was used to showcase the format and CD players.
Alongside his solo albums, Cooder also worked on soundtracks such as The Long Riders, The Border and brought the slide to a new artistic level on Paris, Texas. This wasn’t the rollicking slide of the Allman Brothers at Fillmore East but slide which put an achingly haunting spell on the listener. Then, A Meeting By The River with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt in 1993 and, more importantly, Buena Vista Social Club in 1997, saw Cooder being hailed as a music archivist. While Cooder turned to his staples of bluesy and rock & roll tunes when he played live, it’d be interesting to see him tour with his soundtracks once in while.
Thanks to easyed for sharing a show (and artwork) on Dime which took place before World Music discovered Ry Cooder.
A few days later, this same lineup performed at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, CA, a performance which was filmed for commercial release by Les Blank. Rumor has it that Ry didn’t like the film [Let’s Have A Ball], and it was never released, although I have seen it in circulation.
The autographs on the CD art are real. Ry autographed a couple of compact discs for me outside the Sweetwater in Mill Valley, CA in 1987 and on one of them conveniently added the year! He had his son, at the time maybe 14 years old, with him, who asked about the compact discs, “Dad, what are those?” to which Ry replied something along the lines of “Those are compact discs, son. They’ll be obsolete in a couple years.”
The venue for this show was The Cotati Cabaret in Cotati, CA. It was a small club that held about 300 people. Cotati is a small town located about an hour north of San Francisco. The Cabaret was an outgrowth of another venue that had been across the street called The Inn of The Beginning, a resurrected version of which has since ‘risen from the ashes’ once or twice since the ’80s. Cotati is next to Sonoma State University, which was called Granola State University back in the days. SSU is where the great recording of Old & In The Way with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott opening was made in 1973.
Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.
Recorded live at the Cotati Cabaret, Cotati, CA; March 23, 1987.
The Ry Cooder Band in 1987
George Bohannon (trombone)
Jorge Calderon (bass)
Ry Cooder (guitar, vocals)
Miguel Cruz (percussion)
Steve Douglas (saxophone)
Terry Evans (vocals)
Willie Greene Jr. (vocals)
Flaco Jimenez (accordian)
Bobby King (vocals)
Jim Keltner (drums)
Arnold McCuller (vocals)
Van Dyke Parks (Keyboards)
01. Showtime (unknown) 2.13
02. Little Sister (Pomus/Shuman) 3.47
03. Smack Dab In The Middle (Calhoun) 1.09
04. Let’s Have A Ball (Bunn) 6.45
05. Go On Home Girl (Alexander) 7.40
06. Ay Te Dejo Déjo En San Antonio (Traditional) 4.40
07. He’ll Have To Go (A. Allison/J. Allison) 6.17
08. Jesus On The Mainline (Traditional) 8.09
09. Dark End Of The Street (Moman/Penn) 6.52
10. Atombomb (unknown)
11. Teeny Weeny Bit I Don’t Want Much (Gordon) 7.28
12. One Meatball (Zaret/Singer) 7.23
13. Maria Elena (Barcelata/Russell) 6.03
14. If Walls Could Talk (Miller) 9.52
15. The Very Thing That Makes You Rich Makes Me Poor (Bailey) 8.05
16. Crazy ‘Bout An Automobile (Emerson) 6.55
17. Chain Gang (Cooke) 6.45
18. Down In Hollywood (Cooder/Drummond) 13.55
19. Good Night Irene (Ledbetter) 6.57