Saturday, 14 December 2013

"1970 - 1987" by RY COODER (2013 Warner Brothers 11CD Mini Box Set) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Look At Granny Run...Granddaddy Close Behind…" 

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" by RY COODER was UK released Monday 11 November 2013 on Warner Brothers 8122796241 (Barcode 081227962418) and is an 11CD mini box set. 
Each album comes in a 5” mini LP repro card sleeve and it breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (30:13 minutes):
1. Alimony [Tommy Tucker cover]
2. France Chance [Joe Callicott cover]
3. One Meat Ball [Louis Singer & Hy Zaret song - Josh White cover]
4. Do Re Mi [Woody Guthrie cover]
5. Old Kentucky Home [Randy Newman cover]
6. How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live? [Blind Alfred Reed cover]
7. Available Space [Ry Cooder song] [Side 2]
8. Pig Meat [Huddie Ledbetter/Leadbelly cover]
9. Police Dog Blues [Arthur Blake cover]
10. Goin’ To Brownsville [Sleepy John Estes cover]
11. Dark Is The Night [Blind Willie Johnson cover]
Tracks 1 to 11 are his debut solo LP “Ry Cooder” – released December 1970 in the USA on Reprise RS 6402 and January 1971 in the UK on Reprise K 44093. Van Dyke Parks plays Piano (tracks not named).

Disc 2 (37:46 minutes):
1. How Can You Keep Moving (Unless You Migrate Too) [Traditional Song cover]
2. Billy The Kid [Traditional Song cover]
3. Money Honey [Jesse Stone song – Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters cover]
4. F.D.R. In Trinidad [Fitz MacLean cover]
5. Teardrops Will Fall [Dickey Doo, Marion Smith song]
6. Denomination Blues [Washington Philips cover]
7. On A Monday [Huddie Ledbetter/Leadbelly cover] [Side 2]
8. Hey Porter [Johnny Cash cover]
9. Great Dreams From Heaven [Joseph Spence cover]
10. Taxes On The Farmer Feed Us All [Traditional Song cover]
11. Vigilante Man [Woody Guthrie cover]
Tracks 1 to 11 are his 2nd album “Into The Purple Valley” – released February 1972 in the USA on Reprise RS 2052 and in the UK on Reprise K 44142

Disc 3 (39:07 minutes):
1. Boomer’s Story [Carson Robinson, Traditional Song cover]
2. Cherry Ball Blues [Ski James cover]
3. Crow Black Chicken [Lawrence Wilson cover]
4. Ax Sweet Mama [Sleepy John Estes cover]
5. Maria Elena [Bob Russell and Lorenzo Barcelata cover]
6. Dark End Of The Street [Chips Moman and Pan Penn song – James Carr cover] [Side 2]
7. Rally ‘Round The Flag [Traditional Song cover]
8. Comin’ In On A Wing And A Prayer [Harold Adamson, Jimmie McHugh song]
9. President Kentucky [Sleepy John Estes cover]
10. Good Morning Mr. Railroad Man [Traditional Song cover]
Tracks 1 to 10 are his 3rd album “Boomer’ Story” – released November 1972 in the USA on Reprise MS 2117 and in the UK on Reprise K 44224; Randy Newman plays piano on “Rally ‘Round The Flag”

Disc 4 (37:22 minutes):
1. Tamp ‘Em Up Solid [Traditional Song cover]
2. Tattler [Russ Titelman, Ry Cooder and Washington Philips song]
3. Married Man’s A Fool [Blind Willie McTell cover]
4. Jesus On The Mainline [Traditional Song cover]
5. It’s All Over Now [Bobby Womack cover]
6. Medley: I’m A Fool For A Cigarette/Feelin’ Good [J.B. Lenoir cover] [Side 2]
7. If Walls Could Talk [Bobby Miller cover]
8. Mexican Divorce [Coasters cover]
9. Ditty Wa Ditty [Arthur Blake cover]
Tracks 1 to 9 are his 4th album “Paradise And Lunch” – release May 1974 in the USA on Reprise MS 2179 and in the UK on Reprise K 44260; Earl Hines plays Piano on “Ditty Wa Ditty”

Disc 5 (39:59 minutes):
1. The Bourgeois Blues [Huddie Ledbetter/Leadbelly cover]
2. I Got Mine [Traditional Song cover]
3. Always Lift Him Up [Blind Alfred Reed cover]
4. He’ll Have To Go [Jim Reeves cover]
5. Smack Dab In The Middle [Jesse Stone song – Charles Calhoun cover]
6. Stand By Me [Ben E. King cover]
7. Yellow Roses [Hank Snow cover]
8. Chloe [Traditional Song cover]
9. Goodnight Irene [Huddie Ledbetter/Leadbelly cover]
Tracks 1 to 9 are his 5th album “Chicken Skin Music” – released October 1976 in the USA on Reprise MS 2254 and in the UK on Reprise K 54083

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 [Side 2]
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” – released August 1977 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 3059 and in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56386
Note: Track 1 “School Is Out” is a Studio song – the rest of the album 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 [Traditional Song cover]
3. The Pearls/Tia Juana [Jelly Roll Morton cover]
4. The Dream
5. Happy Meeting In Glory [Traditional Song cover]
6. In A Mist [Bix Beiderbecke cover]
7. Flashes [Bix Beiderbecke cover]
8. Davenport Blues [Bix Beiderbecke cover]
9. Shine
10. Nobody [Bert Williams cover]
11. We Shall Be Happy [Traditional Song cover]
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album “Jazz” – released June 1978 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3197 and in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56488

Disc 8 (40:12 minutes):
1. Little Sister [Elvis Presley cover]
2. Go Home, Girl [Arthur Alexander cover]
3. The Very Thing That Makes You Rich
4. I Think It’s Going To Work Out Fine [Ike & Tina Turner cover]
5. Down In Hollywood [Ry Cooder song] [Side 2]
6. Look At Granny Run Run [Howard Tate cover]
7. Trouble You Can’t Fool Me [Frederick Knight cover]
8. Don’t You Mess Up A Good Thing [Fontella Bass & Bobby McClure cover]
9. I Can’t Win [The Invincibles cover]
Tracks 1 to 9 are the album “Bop Till You Drop” – released August 1979 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3358 and in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56691. Bobby King sings Backing Vocals on 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 and Lead Vocals on 9. Chaka Khan sings Backing Vocals on 5 and 8.

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” – released October 1980 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3489 and in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56846

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” – released April 1982 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3651 and in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56976

Disc 11 (40:52 minutes):
1. Get Rhythm [Johnny Cash cover]
2. Low—Commotion
3. Going Back To Okinawa
4. 13 Question Method [Chuck Berry cover]
5. Women Will Rule The World
6. All Shook Up [Elvis Presley cover]
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” – released December 1987 in the USA on Warner Brothers 25639-1 and in the UK on Warner Brothers WX 121

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 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 begun 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 “I’m A 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.

“Bop Till You Drop” is a near perfect album and is littered with cleverly chosen covers opening with his take on Presley’s “Little Sister” given that distinctive Cooder jerky rhythm makeover (with Bobby Kind’s backing vocals adding so much to the tune). Arthur Alexander’s “Go Home Girl” has a wonderful ache to it while “Down In Hollywood” (his only original on the album) has ballbreakingly funny lyrics about Gays in Tinseltown. This classic 1979 LP ends with Chaka Khan and Bobby Kind getting duet Gospel on “I Can’t Win” – a song brought to the world by Clifton Knight when he was with the US Soul Group The Invincibles (1966 on Loma Records). It’s beautifully done.

With its mixture of Traditionals and Bix Beiderbecke rhythms 1978’s “Jazz” goes all Old Timey (“Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now”) and is one of those records that got ignored on release but gets rediscovered as a masterpiece years later. It’s also beautifully produced – the remaster shining like a diamond here – slide guitars, trombones, big bass drums and banjos coming at you from every angle. “The Slide Area” and the fabulous “Get Rhythm” albums feature witty nuggets like “UFO Has Landed In The Ghetto” and “Women Will Rule The World” (go Hilary Clinton).

Great stuff - and at a little over two quid per album – “1970-1987” is a frankly bit of a steal in a sea of overpriced and stodgy Anniversary reissues.

On Ry Cooder’s blinding cover of Howard Tate’s “Look At Granny Run Run” (written by that genius duo of Jerry Ragovoy and Mort Shuman) our Ryland tells of Grandfather’s renewed libido because the Doctor has given him “a brand new pill...” Get this Americana Musical Tonic winging its way to someone you love as soon as possible...

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. 
One of those titles is CLASSIC 1970s ROCK - an E-Book with over 260 entries and 2450 
e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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