Ry Cooder – Prodigal Son


Ry Cooder is certainly one of the forefathers of roots music or Americana. Mentored by Sleepy John Estes, he certainly has a good pedigree in the blues. While just a young man he played with Taj Mahal, Captain Beefheart, and the Rolling Stones.- during their most critically acclaimed period. In the 1970’s he was breathing new life into depression era ballads, Leadbelly songs, early rock and roll, as well as exploring Tejano music with Flaco Jimenez. Indeed, he was so eclectic and talented in many styles, even Bahamian and Hawaiian music, and early jazz, yet it was always identifiable as Ry Cooder music. In the 1980’s he wrote and performed movie soundtracks, such as for the movie Paris, Texas. He also recorded the first digitally recorded album (Bop Till You Drop).

I saw Ry in the 1970’s on a double bill with another roots pioneer David Bromberg at New York city’s Town Hall. Needless to say it was a great show in an intimate room from the second row. This stuff is the perfect antidote for the corporate opium of the people pop music being forced on us by our overlords today. As Woody said, this guitar kills fascists.

In the late 1990’s he brought the Buena Vista Social Club to worldwide attention in collaboration with filmaker Wim Wenders. He has since resurrected 1950’s era Cuban rock and roll and more recently recorded his own topical songs .

This album is as enjoyable as anything he’s ever done. It is a combination of carefully curated (and I don’t just throw around that term lightly) covers like You Must Unload, and topical originals like Gentrification, which calls out Google by name and Jesus and Woody which calls out modern day Fascism for what it is

This is just such a good album. Yes, some is even Chicken Skin Music. It could have easily followed 1971’s Into The Purple Valley. Ry has lost none of his power or musicianship in the 48 years since his first solo album.

You should also check out the recent release Alive in America to hear live Ry Cooder from the 1970’s.

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