Ry Cooder – Chicken Skin Music (1976)

FrontCover1Yesterday he celebrated his 75th birthday !

Ryland Peter “Ry” Cooder (born March 15, 1947) is an American musician, songwriter, film score composer, record producer, and writer. He is a multi-instrumentalist but is best known for his slide guitar work, his interest in traditional music, and his collaborations with traditional musicians from many countries.

Cooder’s solo work draws upon many genres. He has played with John Lee Hooker, Captain Beefheart, Gordon Lightfoot, Ali Farka Touré, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Randy Newman, Linda Ronstadt, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, David Lindley, The Chieftains, The Doobie Brothers, and Carla Olson and The Textones (on record and film). He formed the band Little Village, and produced the album Buena Vista Social Club (1997), which became a worldwide hit; Wim Wenders directed the documentary film of the same name (1999), which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000.

Rc Cooder

Cooder was ranked at No. 8 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”, while a 2010 list by Gibson Guitar Corporation placed him at No. 32. In 2011, he published a collection of short stories called Los Angeles Stories.

Ry Cooder

Chicken Skin Music is Ry Cooder’s fifth studio album, released in 1976, on the Reprise label. (wikipedia)

Ry Cooder has always believed in the “mutuality in music,” and this may be no more evident in his career than with his fifth album, Chicken Skin Music (a Hawaiian colloquialism, synonymous with goosebumps). Even more than usual, Cooder refuses to recognize borders — geographical or musical — presenting “Stand By Me” as a gospel song with a norteño arrangement, or giving the Jim Reeves country-pop classic, “He’ll Have to Go,” a bolero rhythm, featuring the interplay of Flaco Jimenez’s accordion and Pat Rizzo’s alto sax. Elsewhere, he teams with a pair of Hawaiian greats — steel guitarist and singer Gabby Pahinui and slack key guitar master Atta Isaacs — on the Hank Snow hit “Yellow Roses” and the beautiful instrumental “Chloe.”


If Cooder’s approach to the music is stylistically diverse, his choice of material certainly follows suit. Bookended by a couple of Leadbelly compositions, Chicken Skin Music sports a collection of songs ranging from the aforementioned tracks to the charming old minstrel/medicine show number “I Got Mine” and the syncopated R&B of “Smack Dab in the Middle.” Also included is Appalachian songwriter Blind Alfred Reed’s “Always Lift Him Up,” complete with a Hawaiian gospel tune, “Kanaka Wai Wai,” woven into the instrumental section. As he explains in the album’s liner notes, Cooder understands the connection between these seemingly disparate styles. This is not merely eclecticism for its own sake. Chicken Skin Music is probably Ry Cooder’s most eccentric record since his first, but it’s also one of his most entertaining. (by Brett Hartenbach)


Red Callender (bass)
Ry Cooder – bajo sexto, mandola, bottleneck guitar, french accordion, electric guitar, slack-key guitar, tiple, hawaiian guitar, vocals)
Chris Ethridge (bass)
Milt Holland (drums, percussion)
Jim Keltner (drums)
George Bohanon (baritone horn on 02.)
Oscar Brashear (cornet on 02.)
Isaac Garcia (drums on 09.)
Hugo Gonzales (bajo sexto on 09.)
Atta Isaacs (slack-key, guitar on 08.)
Fred Jackson Jr. (saxophone on 02.)
Flaco Jiménez (accordion on 04., 06. + 09.)
Henry Ojeda (bass on 09.)
Gabby Pahinui (steel guitar on 08.)
Benny Powell – trombone on 02.)
Pat Rizzo (saxophone on 04.)
Russ Titelman (bajo sexto on 06.)
Frank Villarreal (saxophone on 09.)
background vocals:
Jimmy Adams -Terry Evans – Cliff Givens – Laurence Fishburne – Bobby King – Herman E. Johnson

01. The Bourgeois Blues (Leadbelly) 3.25
02. “I Got Mine” Traditional; based on Pink Anderson’s version 4:28
03. “Always Lift Him Up/Kanaka Wai Wai” Blind Alfred Reed/Traditional 6:01
04. “He’ll Have to Go” Joe Allison, Audrey Allison 5:07
Side twoNo. Title Writer(s) Length
05. “Smack Dab in the Middle” Charles E. Calhoun 3:18
06. “Stand by Me” Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller 3:38
07. “Yellow Roses” Ken Devine, Sam Nichols 6:11
08. “Chlo-e” (instrumental) Gus Kahn, Neil Moret 3:00
09. “Goodnight, Irene” Lead Belly, John Lomax 4:32




More from Ry Cooder:

The official website:

Nicky Hopkins, Ry Cooder, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts – Jamming With Edward (1972)

FrontCover1Jamming with Edward! is a 1972 album by three Rolling Stones band members (Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman) accompanied by Nicky Hopkins and Ry Cooder.

The album was recorded at London’s Olympic Studio on April 23, 1969, during the Let It Bleed sessions, and released on Rolling Stones Records in 1972. It consists of a series of loose jams performed by band members while waiting for Keith Richards to return to the studio. The reason for Richards’ absence is uncertain; though it is commonly believed that he walked out over Cooder being brought in as a support guitarist, producer Glyn Johns has attributed his absence to a phone call from his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg. Although Jamming with Edward! reached No. 33 on the US charts in February 1972 during an 11-week stay, it failed to make the UK listings.

“Edward” is a nickname for pianist Nicky Hopkins, originating from some earlier studio conversation between Hopkins and another Rolling Stone, Brian Jones. Hopkins also contributed the cover art. In the original liner notes, Mick Jagger describes the album as “a nice piece of bullshit… which we cut one night in London, England while waiting for our guitar player to get out of bed. It was promptly forgotten (which may have been for the better) … I hope you spend longer listening to this record than we did recording it.” On the CD version there are additional notes written by Mark Paytress adding more context and describing the result as a “curio to top all curios, perhaps”.

Rc Cooder

Johns said of the album: “[It] was just a joke really, just a laugh. I recorded it and they played it, and then, I don’t know how long later, we dug the tapes out, I mixed it and they stuck it out on album. It didn’t really warrant releasing really, but it was okay, a bit of fun, and there’s some good playing on it.”

According to Rolling Stone, the release was delayed several months due to the appearance of an expletive on the back cover art, which was partially covered with stars in the ultimate release. (wikipedia)

Rolling Stone advert from February 1972 added in which it states that it was recorded “one night last year”. In fact it was recorded on 23rd April, 1969.


If you listen this set for only one reason, “Blow With Ry” should be the reason—it’s an exquisite jam with Ry Cooder’s slide guitar floating and stinging so deftly over such a funky rhythm section and in and out of Nicky Hopkins’s keyboard palette you have to re-read the credits to realise this had anything to do with the Rolling Stones. And while you might think Hopkins was a little over the top dominating “Edward’s Thrump Up,” you’ll forgive him because he’s otherwise right in the pocket and sneaking out only when necessary elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to sink deeply into this set’s version of “It Hurts Me Too,” which just might be the second best cover of the Elmore James vintage you’ll hear. (I’d have to give the number one honours to Canned Heat.)

New Musical Express review January 15, 1972:
New Musical Express - January 15_1972

The rest? Good, clean, semi-sloppy fun, for the most part. And if Mick Jagger has to wrestle to get a few words in edgewise, it’s probably the most honest blues singing he’d done in too long by the time of this jam, and while his harmonica blowing won’t make you forget Sonny Boy Williamson II, exactly, it’s just about the best he’s ever been captured with the instrument. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts must have wished they could have done a lot more of this and a lot less of the B.S. into which the Stones sank after “Exile on Main Street”—close your eyes and you think you’re listening to a vintage Muddy Waters rhythm section cutting loose after hours. Even if “Boudoir Stomp” sounds a little too much like Jagger, Hopkins, and Cooder are trying too hard find a hook to hang it on despite some tasty playing and Cooder’s snappily subtle rhythm guitar, until they shift from a bluesy shuffle to a rumbling, funky rock.

It’s enough to make you wish these five had done and released a little more such jamming. If this was the net result of Keith Richards storming out of a “Let It Bleed” session because Cooder was brought in to augment the guitars, maybe he should have stormed out of a few other sessions, too. (Jeff Kallman)

Yes, this is a jam album and … a real good one !


Ry Cooder (guitar)
Nicky Hopkins (keyboards)
Mick Jagger (harmonica, vocals)
Charlie Watts (drums)
Bill Wyman (bass)

Nicky Hopkins

01. The Boudoir Stomp (Cooder/Hopkins/Watts) 5.16
02. It Hurts Me Too (includes a quotation from “Pledging My Time” (Bob Dylan) (James/ London) 5.14
03. Edward’s Thrump Up (Cooder/Hopkins/Watts) 8.13
04. Blow Wth Ry (Cooder/Hopkins/Watts) 11.08
05. Interlude A La El Hopo (Includes a quotation from “The Loveliest Night of the Year” (Webster, Ross) (Cooder/Hopkins/Watts) 2.06
06. Highland Fling (Cooder/Hopkins/Watts) 4.18




Ry Cooder – Election Special (2012)

FrontCover1Election Special is the 2012 fifteenth studio album by American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ry Cooder. After his 2011 album Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down, Cooder continued writing topical and storyline-inspired songs. Displeased with the Republican Party and its financial supporters, he also wanted to write an album that would address listeners during the United States presidential election of 2012, which he believed to be a critical event in the country’s history. Election Special was recorded mostly at Drive-By Studios in North Hollywood and produced by Cooder.

Election Special is an American roots and blues rock album of protest songs with music characterized by upbeat melodies, simple instrumentation, and sparse arrangements. Cooder played all of the instruments, including bass, guitar, and mandolin, with the exception of drums by his son Joachim. A deeply political album, it expands on the socio-political musings and current event topics of Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down with forthright, satirical lyrics and song-form vignettes. Cooder’s songwriting exhibits liberal and populist sentiments and draws on older musical sources such as broadside ballads and country blues.

Election Special was released by Perro Verde Records and Nonesuch Records on August 16, 2012, one week before the 2012 Republican National Convention. It received generally positive reviews from critics, who complimented its topical protest songs and Cooder’s musicianship. The album peaked at number 164 on the Billboard 200 chart in the US, but charted significantly higher in other countries. Cooder did not tour in promotion of the album, citing a lost interest in both playing large concert venues and the commercial aspect of releasing records.

Ry Cooder

In 2011, Cooder recorded Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down after being inspired by a headline about bankers and other affluent people profiting from bank bailouts and the resulting recession during the late-2000s. Released in August to critical acclaim, it showcased Cooder’s return to his early work’s musical style and told topical stories about political and social corruption, various economic victims, and an emerging class war. With the album finished, Cooder had developed a penchant for writing such songs and wanted to continue writing more storyline-inspired songs. A month after the album’s release, Cooder had his first short-story collection, Los Angeles Stories, published by City Lights Bookstore. In June 2012, he joined Time political columnist Joe Klein on the latter’s road trip across the United States, speaking out to people in towns about the state of the nation and its forthcoming presidential election in 2012.

I have to find little storylines. I have to have something I can play and sing, in some style or some instrumental point of view – a country tune or a blues tune – updating these things that I grew up listening to … it seemed that the more I did it, the better I got at it, like anything. It’s an acting job. You put yourself into the spirit of the thing, the character of the thing. (Ry Cooder)


With Election Special, Cooder wanted to write an album with direct lyrics and encourage urgency in listeners during the US presidential election of 2012. He felt that the election season was “the time of decision in this country … the most critical time in the history of the country”. When asked about concerns over “preaching to the choir”, Cooder said in an interview for the Los Angeles Times, “I thought I should have a record that says, ‘This here record is for you during election time.’ Rather than be vague and poetic, let’s just call this what it is. That way I may get people’s attention. That’s the idea.” Cooder drew on music he grew up listening to such as Depression-era songs and sought to appropriate contemporary subject matter to them. When writing the album, he also touched on the Occupy movement, which he felt optimistic about, saying that “There’s a sign of something. Those people are having conversations, and the conversations become issues and the issues become talked about. Pretty soon, the rest of the world picks up on it, even the politicians.”

Cooder’s displeasure with the Republican Party and its financial supporters, particularly the Koch Brothers, also inspired his songwriting. He found the party to be “insanely dangerous” to Barack Obama’s presidency and the US, and said of them in an interview for The Guardian, “in case anybody thinks Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin are clowns because they misspeak or don’t know their history or they say silly things: that’s just an act, and it’s a useful act. Everything is a distraction from the core truths which are, first of all, that corporations have taken over the country.” He viewed that his songs for the album provide a more convenient alternative for citizens who do not research politicians, saying that “I don’t write books and give speeches but with a four-minute song you can use allegory and other means to suggest a different point of view. It’s like looking around the corner, and that’s what songs are good at sometimes. They hit you with a new thought – assuming that people will listen.”

Ry Cooder

Cooder recorded most of Election Special at Drive-By Studios, the living room of engineer Martin Pradler’s house in North Hollywood. Sessions also took place at Wireland Studios in Chatsworth, California. Pradler later mixed and mastered the album at both recording locations. The album was produced entirely by Cooder. He performed most of the album himself, playing bass, guitar, and mandolin. His son Joachim contributed on drums, and session musician Arnold McCuller sung harmony vocals on the song “Take Your Hands off It”. At Drive-By Studios, Cooder recorded songs in a series of unrehearsed, single-take performances, which he felt helped him channel the songs’ respective characters more efficiently. He later said of his approach to developing the songs, “The way I think these songs can work is if you don’t ponder over it too hard, because the tunes wanna have a spontaneous-combustion effect. What I want to do is get a certain attitude in the voice, and I can only do that once. By take two, I’m startin’ to think about it. By take three, I’m startin’ to map it out – it’s gone. It’s spoiled, y’see? So I need to get through this fast.” He first recorded the song “The Wall Street Part of Town” in November 2011. On June 7, 2012, the album’s release was announced for a date in August, intended to be a week before the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Election Special is an American roots and blues rock album of protest songs. It is characterized by upbeat melodies, simple instrumentation, and swinging, sparse arrangements. Music journalist Robin Denselow describes Election Special as “musically … very much a DIY album,” while Matt Snow of Mojo compares Cooder to Tom Waits as a “gloves-off DIY soundscapist in wood, steel, and string.” The album’s music also incorporates folk, roots rock, and, most prominently, blues styles. Music writers compare the album’s mix of folk and blues styles to Cooder’s earlier, distinguishing albums. Zeth Lundy of the Boston Phoenix characterizes Cooder as a “Keith Richards/Woody Guthrie hybrid” on Election Special.


The deeply political album expands on the socio-political musings of Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down. Cooder’s forthright lyrics exhibit satire, dark humor, and bitter, apprehensive feelings about current events, including Guantanamo Bay, the Occupy movement, the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Barack Obama’s plight as US President, and the election of 2012. He addresses these topics through song-form vignettes, which express his anti-Republican party perspective. Cooder’s songwriting also reappropriates lyrics from older musical sources, including protest songs, broadside ballads, and country blues. Nick Coleman of The Independent describes it as “heartfelt and unencumbered with musicological pedantry”, while the newspaper’s Andy Gill comments that Cooder “employs demotic” language and “variations of the blues … to carry his broadsides.” Jeff Schwager of PopMatters cites Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie as influences on Cooder’s songcraft for the album.

Music writers characterize Cooder’s sentiments and political stance on the album as liberal and populist. Joseph Jon Lanthier of Slant Magazine observes “liberal convictions” and a “bleeding heart” in his lyrics, which he says express “reductive sympathy for President Obama and suspicions that fat cats are perverting the Bill of Rights”. Music essayist Robert Christgau writes that Cooder “reappl[ies] the Popular Front mindset to the messy compromises of electoral politics, and all the must-hears illuminate the 2012 presidential election rather than merely referencing it”. Bud Scoppa of Uncut calls the album “an impassioned screed against the dumbing down of America” and comments that Cooder eschews conventional “preaching” for “three-dimensional characters whose beliefs and opinions span the political spectrum of America in 2012.”

“Mutt Romney Blues” is a three-chord, acoustic Delta blues song.[3][12] Drawing parallels between the Mitt Romney dog incident and his political “plans and schemes”,[19] the song criticizes Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and is sung from the perspective of the Romney family’s dog. Cooder was inspired by Al Sharpton’s quote “how he treated his dog tells you a lot about him”, and found the dog to be “a useful character … when you view it in the light of the blues. Like a servant, a yardman, someone very low in the social order. He’s just begging to be let down [from the car roof].”[25] Bud Scoppa of Uncut characterizes the song as “the musical equivalent of a political cartoon”.[4] “Brother Is Gone” is poignantly styled as a sad folktale and features a haunting mandolin riff, a rueful tone, and wounded vocals. Its lyrics attribute the conservative Koch Brothers to the Deal with the Devil myth, which Cooder adapted from Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues”. The lyrics cite their “crossroads” as “the prairie town of Wichita”, where Koch Industries is headquartered. He said in an interview that “the only logical explanation for the Brothers I could come up with is, they made their deal at the crossroads with Satan.” AllMusic’s Thom Jurek cites it as “among the finest songs [Cooder]’s written.”

“The Wall Street Part of Town” incorporates mandolin, Americana guitar riffs, and offers encouragement to protesters. Literary journalist Alec Wilkinson writes that the song’s narrator is “looking for refuge in the part of town where the wind always blows at your back and the ground tilts in your favor.” “Guantanamo” features cascading guitar by Cooder and handclaps. The song is about the nadir of human depravity. A slow, 12-bar blues lament, “Cold Cold Feeling” features juke joint, bottleneck guitar, and lyrics placing Barack Obama as the narrator singing his blues in the White House.Cooder meant to draw sympathy from listeners for Barack Obama.[6] Geoff Cowart of musicOMH draws similarities of the song to “the voodoo blues of Screaming Jay Hawkins”. “Going to Tampa” is a string band country song in Alla breve meter. Using scathing humor and burlesque lyrical elements, the song’s farcical lyrics depict a fictional hijacking of the 2012 Republican National Convention by the Tea Party, as Cooder accuses both parties of racism and social engineering.

Joachim Cooder

Titled after the “drinking the Kool-Aid” metaphor,[10] “Kool-Aid” has a dark electric blues style, noir musical vibes, and lyrics about the politically misguided lower middle class who support Republican tax cuts for the rich.[19] The song’s narrative follows a young American who accepts the Bush administration’s pro-war stance, heads off to a foreign land willing to fight any person of color, and returns to his home jobless.[4] According to writer James C. McKinley, Jr., the song continues a theme Cooder established on Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down: “the idea of poor whites who have been let down by the politicians they have supported.” It also paraphrases the lyrics to the Western swing standard “Cocaine Blues”, and touches on the controversial stand-your-ground law,[16] which Cooder viewed as “new Jim Crow laws – the stand-your-ground law is already responsible for about 80 shooting deaths of African Americans.” “The 90 and the 9” repurposes the gospel hymn of the same name and the worker songs of Joe Hill with apocalyptic themes, an anti-war narrative, and a depiction of modern union workers as part of the lower 99% of income distribution in the US. Cooder was inspired to write the song by military recruitment of high schoolers in his native Los Angeles. “Take Your Hands off It” has a defiant tone, prominent guitar, and lyrics that rousingly defend constitutional rights.

Mutt Romney Blues

Cooder released “The Wall Street Part of Town” as a free download on November 21, 2011. The song, which he wrote in support of the Occupy movement, was also aired that month on Democracy Now! and Jon Wiener’s radio show on KPFK in Los Angeles. After reading her article on Larry McCarthy’s affiliation with the pro-Romney Restore Our Future group, Cooder sent “Going to Tampa” to Jane Mayer of The New Yorker in February 2012; the song makes reference to McCarthy’s Willie Horton ad during the 1988 presidential campaign. Mayer subsequently posted the song on SoundCloud and the magazine’s website on February 10. Cooder also sent “Mutt Romney Blues” to Brave New Films, who subsequently produced a music video for the song. Released virally on February 17, the video features clips of Romney and a cartoonish depiction of the 1983 incident with his dog, who is in a car rooftop carrier singing the song.

Prior to the album’s release, Cooder played a union hall in San Francisco for a longshoremen’s union, which according to him, “got every turn of phrase. They’d never heard of me before or any of my records, but they understood all of these lyric things immediately. Because they’ve been educated in the union, you know what I mean? Because they lived it.” On October 14, Cooder performed at This Land Is Your Land, a concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in tribute to Woody Guthrie. Cooder did not tour in promotion of Election Special, as the Kennedy Center was his last show.[40] In an interview for The Strand at the time, he expressed disinterest in playing larger concert venues for the album, finding them more suitable for “fame” purposes rather than spreading a political message. Cooder remarked on the album’s potential with listeners in general in an interview for Uncut, saying that:

“Who can say anymore? We’re talking about an arcane pursuit. I mean, making records, are you kidding me? Some people would say, ‘Why are you doing this?’ I would say that it’s the only thing I like to do. I’m finally where I’d like to be in my ability. It only took fucking forever, 60-odd years of trying to get good at this, for God’s sakes. So what else would I do, whether or not people ever hear it or buy it? When I get ’em, I give ’em away to people. I know they’re not gonna buy the damn things. But we’ll see.”

Election Special charted at number 164 on the US Billboard 200, on which it spent one week. It was Cooder’s fourth-highest charting album in the US. It attained higher charting in other countries. In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number 41 on the UK Albums Chart, and at number five on the Official Record Store Chart. It also debuted at number 25 on the Scottish Albums Chart. Election Special reached its highest position in Norway, where it peaked at number nine. It has charted for four weeks and reached number 28 in the Netherlands. (by wikipedia)


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. He wrote and recorded this album as a witness to the era. Other than drums (played by his son Joachim) and some backing vocals, Cooder plays everything here. He uses foreboding acoustic blues in “Mutt Romney Blues” (written from the point of view of the candidate Mitt Romney’s dog). The more poignant “Brother Is Gone” is at first blush a seemingly heart-wrenching folk tale fueled by Cooder’s mandolin. Yet it slowly and purposely relates a deal-with-the-devil fantasy about conservatives Charles and David Koch.


It’s among the finest songs he’s written. But Cooder rocks up his anger too: “Guantanamo” is a raucous barroom strut. “Cold Cold Feeling” is a deep, slow garage blues that’s chilling in its effectiveness. His screed is a link in a chain of political blues tunes that date back to the Delta. “Going to Tampa” is a cut-time string band country tune. It’s a farce about the 2012 Republican National Convention as hijacked by the Tea Party. He accuses both of outright racism and social engineering, with scathing humor. The album’s finest cut is the dark, Delta-style electric blues of “Kool-Aid,” which recalls Junior Kimbrough musically. Guthrie’s own spirit is evoked in the antiwar narrative “The 90 and the 9,” with its singalong choruses. Election Special closes with a scorching, rocking blues entitled “Take Your Hands Off It.” It’s a militant anthem that demands that the Constitution and Bill of Rights be returned to their rightful place at the heart of mainstream American life. Sure enough, because of its soapbox style, Election Special is the most overtly political album of Cooder’s career. As such, it serves two purposes: one is that it is the most organic record he’s issued in almost two decades; and, more importantly, it restores topical protest music to a bona fide place in American cultural life. (by Thom Jurek)


Joachim Cooder (drums)
Ry Cooder (guitar, bass, guitar, mandolin, vocals)
Arnold McCuller (background vocals on 09.)

01. Mutt Romney Blues 3.45
02. Brother Is Gone 5.03
03. The Wall Street Part Of Town 3.43
04. Guantanamo 3:29
05. Cold Cold Feeling 5:.26
06. Going To Tampa 3.58
07. Kool-Aid 4.10
08. The 90 And The 9 5.16
09. Take Your Hands Off It  3.48

All songs were written by Ry Cooder
except 09., written by Joachim Cooder and Ry Cooder



Take Your Hands Off It



Ry Cooder & Vishwa Mohan Bhatt – A Meeting By The River (1992)

FrontCover1.jpgA Meeting by the River is an album recorded by Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt; it was recorded in September 1992 and released in April 1993 through the record label Water Lily Acoustics. This improvised, collaborative album features Cooder on slide guitar and Bhatt on the Mohan veena, a stringed instrument created by Bhatt. A Meeting by the River was produced by Kavichandran Alexander and Jayant Shah, engineered by Alexander, and mastered by Kevin Michael Gray and Paul Stubblebine. It peaked at number four on Billboard’s Top World Music Albums chart, and earned Cooder and Bhatt Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album at the 36th Grammy Awards (1994). The album is included in Tom Moon’s 2008 book 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die.

A Meeting by the River was recorded in September 1992; it features Cooder solely on slide guitar and Bhatt on the Mohan veena, a stringed instrument he created.[2][3] Allmusic’s Daniel Gioffre described the instrument as a hybrid between a guitar and a vichitra veena; it is played with a metal slide moving across steel rods along the neck. Cooder had heard a recording of Hindustani classical music performed by Bhatt and was impressed by his playing and the “haunting clarity” of the Mohan veena. Cooder and Bhatt met for the first time less than one hour before recording began; they improvised much of the set; the album’s liner notes state, “this recording was unplanned and unrehearsed”. The album was produced by Kavichandran Alexander, founder of Water Lily Acoustics, and Jayant Shah. It was engineered by Alexander, and was mastered by Kevin Michael Gray and Paul Stubblebine. Cooder and Bhatt are accompanied by Cooder’s fourteen-year-old son Joachim on dumbek, a Middle Eastern drum, and by Sukhvinder Singh Namdhari on tabla.

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt1

The collaboration between Cooder and Bhatt is Alexander’s first attempt to record musicians of different cultures together, one of his goals when he founded the record label. Author George Plasketes described Bhatt’s playing as “highly nuanced” and said, Cooder performs in a more “loose-jointed, slip ‘n’ slide style”. According to Gioffre, Cooder and Bhatt use improvisation and “voice-like” phrasing, showing melodic performances in an alternating fashion and in unison. The album contains four tracks, three of which are credited to Cooder and Bhatt; tracks range in duration from approximately seven-and-a-half minutes to twelve minutes. “Longing” has a structure similar to a raga. Author Tom Moon said Cooder takes the lead on the hymn “Isa Lei” as Bhatt contributes “elaborate squiggling asides” and “swooping nosedives”. In 2011, Bhatt performed “A Meeting by the River” at a music festival in honor of guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. Bhatt said of the song, “Music has no religion and no geographical or linguistic barrier. It speaks a universal language. My composition – ‘A Meeting by the River’ – aims at explaining this.” Bhatt has said he considers working with Cooder his “most special” collaboration.

Ry Cooder1Gioffre wrote a positive review of the album and called Cooder and Bhatt “genuine masters” of their respective instruments. He described the musical interplay between the musicians as “nothing short of astounding” and the album as a rare instance in which a combination of genres works. Gioffre also wrote, “this album is masterfully recorded; each instrument is clear, distinct, and three-dimensional sounding. A Meeting by the River is a must-own, a thing of pure, unadulterated beauty, and the strongest record in Cooder’s extensive catalog. Peter Margasak of the Chicago Tribune awarded the album four stars out of four, describing Cooder’s performance as “arresting” and Bhatt’s as “haunting”. Margasak wrote that the fusion revealed a “rare, often transcendental beauty” as the two artists “gently and intuitively” found common ground. Rolling Stone called the album “fruitful” and awarded it three stars out of five.

A Meeting by the River reached a peak position of number four on Billboard’s Top World Music Albums chart. In 1994, the album earned Cooder and Bhatt Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album. Bhatt became one of a few Indian musicians to have received a Grammy Award until A. R. Rahman won at the 52nd Grammy Awards in 2010. Previous Indian award winners had been recognized jointly with Western artists. The February 25, 1995, issue of Billboard, which featured the annual “Indies Spotlight” and covered independent music between the January 29, 1994, and January 21, 1995, issues of the magazine included A Meeting by the River at number ten on its list of the “Top Indie World Music Albums”. The album is included in Tom Moon’s 2008 book 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener’s Life List.


Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (mohan veena, slide guitar)
Joachim Cooder (dumbek)
Ry Cooder (bottleneck guitar, guitar)
Sukhvinder Singh Namdhari (tabla)


01. A Meeting By The River (Cooder/Bhatt) 10.08
02. Longing (Cooder/Bhatt) 9.59
03. Ganges Delta Blues (Cooder/Bhatt) 7.49
04. Isa Lei” (Caten) 12.00



Rising Sons (feat. Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder) – Rising Sons (1966 – 1992)

BootlegFrontCover1.JPGRising Sons was a Los Angeles, California-based band founded in 1964. Their initial career was short-lived, but the group found retrospective fame for launching the careers of singer Taj Mahal and guitarist Ry Cooder.

The original lineup was a 17-year-old Ry Cooder (vocals, six- and 12-string guitar, mandolin, slide and bottleneck guitar, dobro), Taj Mahal (vocals, harmonica, guitar, piano), Gary Marker (bass), Jesse Lee Kincaid (born Nick Gerlach,[1] vocals and guitar) and Ed Cassidy (drums). Cassidy left in 1965 after injuring his wrist playing a monumental version of “Statesboro Blues” with the band.[2] He was replaced by Kevin Kelley.

The group often played at the Los Angeles clubs The Troubadour and The Ash Grove (which burned down in 1973 and was not rebuilt). They were signed by Columbia Records. Their only album, produced by Terry Melcher, was not issued at the time. One single, “Candy Man” backed with “The Devil’s Got My Woman”, was released. The group disbanded in 1966. They were contemporaries of the famous Los Angeles band the Byrds; fans wondered which band would be the bigger success, until the Byrds’ album Mr. Tambourine Man became a hit.


Recordings by Rising Sons were widely bootlegged and nearly three decades later were released by Columbia Records under the title Rising Sons Featuring Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder (1992). “We were the problem,” remembered Marker later. “We had difficulties distilling our multiple musical agendas down to a product that would sell. We had no actual leader, no clear musical vision…. I think [Melcher] went out of his way to make us happy – within the scope of his knowledge. He tried just about everything he could, including the live, acoustic session that produced ‘2:10 Train.'”


Mahal went on to become a prominent solo blues and folk performer. Cooder and Marker played with Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band. Cooder went on to become a prominent session musician, recorded numerous albums under his own name, and scored several soundtracks. Kincaid attended California Institute of the Arts on a classical guitar scholarship and left the United States for six years in Europe. His music album, Brief Moments Full Measure, and his book, Ibiza Chronicles, were released in 2014. He currently resides in Mill Valley, California. Cassidy founded the band Spirit. Kelley became a member of his cousin Chris Hillman’s band the Byrds in 1968, playing on their seminal album Sweetheart of the Rodeo.


Marker retired from the music industry but maintained an active interest (especially in Beefheart-related matters) until he died of a stroke, on December 8, 2015, at the age of 72 (by wikipedia)

Their lone single and unreleased album form the core of this 22-track reissue, which features imaginative rearrangements of standards like “Corrine, Corrina,” an obscure Dylan cover (“Walkin’ Down the Line”), rocking originals, a confident performance of Goffin/King’s “Take a Giant Step” (later Mahal’s signature tune), and nifty guitar interplay between Mahal and Cooder throughout. Overall, it sounds a lot more like it belongs in 1967-1968 than 1965-1966. This archival release has value above and beyond historical interest. by Richie Unterberger)

And I got this recordings for the first time as a bootleg in the Eighties …


Ed Cassidy (drums)
Ry Cooder (guitar, vocals)
Jesse Lee Kincaid (vocals)
Taj Mahal (guitar, vocals)
Kevin Kelley (drums)
Gary “Magic” Marker (bass)


The bootleg tracklist

01. Statesboro Blues (McTell) 2.26
02. If The River Was Whiskey (Divin’ Duck Blues) (Estes) 2.43
03. By And By (Poor Me) (Patton) 3.34
04. Candy Man (Davis) 2.06
05. 2:10 Train (Albertano) 4.11
06. Let The Good Times Roll (Goodman/Lee) 2.44
07. 44 Blues (Dixon) 3.25
08. 11th Street Overcrossing (Kincaid) 2.14
09. Corrin, Corrina (Traditional) 2.58
10. Tulsa County (Polland) 2.44
11. Walkin’ Down The Line (Dylan) 2.15
12. The Girl With Green Eyes (Kincaid) 2.16
13. Sunny’s Dream (Kincaid) 3.03
14. Spanish Lace Blues (Kincaid) 2.14
15. The Devil’s Got My Woman (James) 3.07
16. Take A Giant Step (Goffin/King) 2.56
17. Flyin’ So High (Kincaid) 3.07
18. Dust My Broom (Johnson) 3.06
19. Last Fair Deal Gone Down (Johnson) 2.40
20. Baby, What You Want Me To Do? (Reed) 2.57
21. Statesboro Blues (Version 2) (McTell) 2.26
22. I Got A Little (Kincaid) 3.23


The bootleg label



Press release from 1966

Ry Cooder – Cotati (1987)

FrontCover1Even 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.

easyed noted:
RyCooder01A 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.
Excellent soundboard.
RyCooderBand1987The 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


Little Village – Living Action (1992)

LittleVillageLivingActionFCFor those Nick Lowe fans who enjoyed Rockpile, here’s Nick Lowe with Ry Cooder, John Hiatt and Jim Keltner – a supergroup collectively known as Little Village.
One of the musical highlights of the ’80s was John Hiatt’s Bring The Family, the 1987 album which, sort of, reintroduced the veteran singer-songwriter to a new generation of fans. It was also an exciting album because of its lineup.
For the hit song, Thing Called Love, Hiatt said: “I had everything when we went to record it, but Nick Lowe came up with that riff – ba dir di dir dit – which is the icing on the cake. As soon as he started playing that on the bass, Ry started playing it on the guitar, and he was laughing, ‘Oh, that’s great.’ And that was pretty much the arrangement.”
The easy way the individual members clicked was what led to Little Village in 1992 but the group’s one and only album did not take off though the classic guitar rock sound certainly hasn’t dated. [One can also guess that the “supergroup” format meant that the focus and the pressure wasn’t directed solely at any one person, certainly each member very much a star in his own right.]
With all the reunions these days, one wonders if Little Village would ever consider going on the road again.
Recorded live at the Fox Warfield Theatre,
San Francisco, CA; April 7, 1992. Excellent FM broadcast

Ry Cooder (guitar, vocals)
John Hiatt (guitar, vocals)
Jim Keltner (drums)
Nick Lowe (bass, vocals)

01. Solar Sex Panel (Cooder/Hiatt/Keltner/Lowe) 7.48
02. The Action (Cooder/Hiatt/Keltner/Lowe) 4.04
03. Fool Who Knows (Cooder/Hiatt/Keltner/Lowe) 3.57
04. Do You Want My Job (Cooder/Hiatt/Keltner/Lowe) 6.08
05. She Runs Hot (Cooder/Hiatt/Keltner/Lowe) 4.56
06. Don’t Think About Her When You’re Trying To Drive (Cooder/Hiatt/Keltner/Lowe) 5.14
07. Memphis In The Meantime (Hiatt) 5.54
08. Crying In My Sleep (Yancey/Lowe) 5.00
09. Big Love (Cooder/Hiatt/Keltner/Lowe) 8.52
10. Little Sister (Pomus/Shuman) 3.38
11. Half A Boy And Half A Man (Lowe) 3.45
12. Thing Called Love (Hiatt) 5.41
13. Lipstick Sunset (Hiatt) 5.48


The Chieftains – The Wide World Over (2002)

FrontCover1In the Chieftains’ four decades of recording, they’ve changed labels a handful of times, and each label has seen fit to record at least one or two collections of the band’s output under their tenure. At this point they have so many best-ofs and greatest-hits compilations, it’s tough for the listener to know the best of what they’re actually hearing. New millennium — new collection: the band’s longtime label, RCA Victor, has done the Celtic community a favor by releasing a collection that deals more with the band’s journey through their different phases as opposed to trying to reassemble a hits package. The end result is almost like listening to a radio station that only plays Chieftains songs. There are some live tracks, their countrified romp through “Cotton-Eyed Joe”; Van Morrison’s adult-contemporary “Shenandoah”; an unusual introduction of the bandmembers in Chinese; appearances from Sting, Diana Krall, and Art Garfunkel; and a couple of new recordings. The breezy cover of “Morning Has Broken” fares better than the hybridized “Redemption Song” (in fact, it’s a challenge to think of any instances of a successful Celtic/reggae alloy). The album will be enjoyed by Chieftains fans as a fun collection of songs they have never heard back-to-back before, and those looking for a greatest-hits collection will have plenty of other places to look. (by Zac Johnson)

Derek Bell (cláirseach, oboe, keyboards, tiompán, vocals)
Kevin Conneff (bodhrán, vocals)
Martin Fay (fiddle, bones, vocals)
Seán Keane (fiddle, tin whistle, vocals)
Matt Molloy (flute, tin whistle, vocals)
Paddy Moloney (uilleann pipes, tin whistle, button accordion, bodhrán, vocals)
Anúna (vocals)
Jean Butler (dancer)
Ry Cooder (electric guitar, mandocello)
Elvis Costello (vocals)
Art Garfunkel (vocals)
Diana Krall (vocals, piano)
Ziggy Marley (vocals, guitar, percussion)
Joni Mitchell (vocals)
Van Morrison (vocals)
Carlos Nunez (bagpipe)
Sinéad O’Connor (vocals)
Linda Ronstadt (vocals)
Ricky Skaggs (vocals)
Don Was (percussion)
Belfast Harp Orchestra
Chinese Ensemble
Cincinnati Pops Orchestra conducted by Erich Kunzel
Los Lobos
The Corrs
The Rolling Stones


01. March Of The King Of Laois (Traditional) 4.25
02. The Foggy Dew (feat: Sinéad O’Connor) (Traditional) 5.01
03. I Know My Love (feat: The Corrs) (Traditional) 3.27
04. Cotton-Eyed Joe (feat: Ricky Skaggs) (Traditional) 2.45
05. The Magdalene Laundries (feat: Joni Mitchell) (Mitchell) 4.57
06. Live from Matt Molloy’s Pub (Traditional) 2.21
07. Shenandoah (feat: Van Morrison) (Traditional) 3.52
08. The Munster Cloak (Traditional) 6.12
09. Morning Has Broken (feat: Art Garfunkel / Diana Krall) (Traditional) 2.55
10. Morning Dew /Women Of Ireland (P.Moloney) 2.57
11. Mo Ghile Mear (feat: Sting) (P.Moloney/Traditional) 3.20
12. Carolan’s Concerto (feat: Belfast Harp Orchestra) (Traditional) 3.02
13. Guadalupe (feat: Los Lobos / Linda Ronstadt) (Traditional) 3.31
14. Full Of Joy (feat: Chinese Ensemble) (Traditional) 3.24
15. Here’s A Health To The Company (Traditional) 3.03
16. Chasing the Fox (feat: Erich Kunzel / Cincinnati Pops Orchestra) (P.Moloney/ Traditional) 4.11
17. Long Journey Home (Anthem) (feat: Anúna / Elvis Costello) (Costello/P.Moloney) 3.20
18. The Rocky Road To Dublin (feat: The Rolling Stones) (Traditional) 4.17
19. Redemption Song (feat: Ziggy Marley) (B.Marley) 4.22



Ry Cooder – Crossroads (1986)

RyCooderCrossroadsFCRyland “Ry” Peter Cooder (born 15 March 1947, in Los Angeles, California) is an American guitarist, singer, and composer.
He is known for his slide guitar work, his interest in the American roots music, and, more recently, for his collaborations with traditional musicians from many countries. Cooder was ranked number 8 on Rolling Stone’s “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”
This production of classic blues tunes remains one of my favorites today. The Karate Kid steps up to the plate but his performance is mediocore yet saleable. A great story, looking for Robert Johnson’s lost tracks, a rendeveouz with the devil, a young love affair and a quest for redempetion make this film very likeable. It is, however, the music that sets it apart. If you are a fan of R. Johnson a lover of the blues then it’s a must see/listen.
Note that this album does not include the legendary “Head-Cuttin’ Duel”. I will publish this track later in the first “Many Fantastic Colors” Anthology.


George Bohannon (baritone horn)
Jorge Calderon (bass)
Ry Cooder (guitar, vocals)
Miguel Cruz (percussion)
Jim Dickinson (piano, dolceola)
Nathan East (bass)
Terry Evans (background vocals)
Frank Frost (vocals, harmonica)
Richard Holmes (bass)
Willie Green (background vocals)
Jim Keltner (drums)
Bobby King (background vocals)
John Logan (harmonica)
Amy Madigan (vocals)
Van Dyke Parks (piano)
Alan Pasqua (synthesizer)
John Price (drums)
Joe Senaca (vocals)
Walter Sereth (saxophone)
William Smith (organ)
Otis Taylor (guitar)
Sonny Terry (harmonica)

01. Crossroads (Johnson) 4.23
02. Down In Mississippi(Lenoir) 4.26 (additional recording – not featured in the movie picture)
03. Cotton Needs Pickin’ (Frost/Holmes/Taylor/Price) 2.58
04. Viola Lee Blues (Lewis) 3.11
05. See You In Hell, Blind Boy (Cooder) 2.12
06. Nitty Gritty Mississippi (Burch/Hill) 2.57
07. He Made A Woman Out Of Me (Burch/Hill) 4.12
08. Feelin’ Bad Blues (Cooder) 4.17
09. Somebody’s Callin’ My Name (Traditional) 1.45
10. Willie Brown Blues (Cooder/Seneca) 3.46
11. Walkin’ Away Blues (Terry/Cooder) 3.40