Ry Cooder

What's it called?: 
Election Special
What does it sound like?: 
Would you vote for a man who drove for 12 hours with his dog strapped to the roof of his car? Thankfully you probably don't have to. But at least half of the Americans who are registered will cast their vote for Mitt Romney this year. It's a scary prospect and one which Ry Cooder has clearly given much thought, with the opening track here written from the hapless hound's viewpoint. As the U.S. heads towards the November bunfight "Election Special" takes a look at the cesspit that is American politics. Cooder's albums are a cottage industry these days with Ry penning the songs and playing every instrument except drums, which are handled by his son Joachim. This is as good as anything he has given us recently with one rather large reservation: the lack of virtuoso guitar. These days fretboard histrionics are kept to a minimum but the songs, at least, are as powerful as ever. "Election Special" will win Ry few friends on the American right, but it will surely keep blues fans happy.
What does it all *mean*?: 
Another year, another well-aimed, politically-charged Ry Cooder album. Last time out it was Wall Street with "Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down", now it's Politicians. As always, Ry's aim is true.
Goes well with …: 
Despite the overt political overtones, this is the real deal as authentic blues albums go and it sounds equally at home alongside John Lee Hooker or Johnny Winter.
Might suit people who like …: 
Americana, old school blues and fine guitar playing.


I bought the album despite some reservations principally because a new Ry Cooder release is an automatic purchase. The reservations I had were if it was too topical and would therefore have a short shelf life. I think the oposite is the case - the songs are very strong and despite the dearth of solos I think the whole album has a real groove that has been absent from some of his more recent stuff. He has started to become something of an eccentric character and I welcome that. Wish that all our stars had his conviction that's for sure.

After Chavez and Dust, I was also hesitant to buy anohter 'issue' song collection, but I always buy Ry's albums anyway, so what the heck. Hey! It's the real deal, there's fun and thoughtfulness here in abundance. It ain't Purple Valley, but it's staying in the player all the same. Another fine piece of work.

Pleased to hear he's grooving again. I shall invest. I love it when he swings with that slide. He was very willing to do so for his mates Bobby King and Terry Evans on a run of their albums in the mid-90's.

Does anyone here remember a gig that was filmed and broadcast on TV in 1987? I assume in support of 'Get Rhythm' which was his latest at the time. Jim Keltner on drums and Tim Drummond on bass. Man, that was one funky band.

(that makes you rich. Wacka Wacka Wacka)

That's the show. 'Down In Hollywood' was excellent.

The Very Thing That Makes You Rich (Makes Me Poor) because the track Kool-Aid on the new album is a dead ringer for it.

Also, it's great to see that Warners have kept faith with Ry for so long. His records are released through the Nonsuch label these days. Nonsuch used to be an Elektra world music/spoken word offshoot, but now plays host to a lot of what we now call Americana.

That makes almost 43 years that Ry's been in the Warner Bros fold.

Most of Ry Cooder's older back catalogue is available for around a fiver on Amazon at the moment, if your looking for anything. I'd particularly like to recommend "Chicken Skin Music", "Paradise And Lunch" and "Into The Purple Valley".

Slide guitar and Sitar ... Nice! I heard a lovely track on Desert Island Discs - Tim Robbins was the cast away. It's been difficult to track down and expensive - but reasonable on Amazon at the mo'

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