Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Album Review Ry Cooder's Chavez Ravine

Chavez RavineFriday, August 05, 2005

Artist: Ry Cooder
Title: Chavez Ravine
Rating: Niche / Very Good

Born in Southern California in 1947, guitarist Ry Cooder has maintained two recording careers; one in the Rock genre and the other flirting around the World Music genre. As a young man he learned to play on the knee of the Reverend Gary Davis: who’s song, “Cocaine” Jackson Browne recorded for his ‘Running on Empty’ album. One of Cooder’s earliest bands included Taj Mahal and Ed Cassidy (Spirit). This short lived band broke up when a completed album was shelved. Cooder then moved into studio work recording with bands such as Paul Revere & the Raiders. He also recorded on the debut album by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band as well as guesting with Randy Newman, Little Feat, and Van Dyke Parks (who worked with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys). Prior to the recording the soundtrack to the film, ‘Performance’ (starring Rolling Stone Mick Jagger) Cooder is credited on the Stones’, Sister Morphine’, ‘Love in Vain’ and the heavily bootlegged, ‘Highway Child.’ He also appears on the cultish flims, ‘Memo From Turner’ along with Nicky Hopkins, Stevie Winwood, and Jim Capaldi. A somewhat rare version of Cooder playing a blistering slide guitar over the song, ‘Brown Sugar’ a/k/a Black Pussy (in reference to a particularlily smooth and dark colored Mexican heroin) exists; however, it’s rumoured that a tiff over a riff with Keith Richards caused this version to be shelved

In 1979 Cooder’s album, Bop Til You Drop, was marketed as the first album in which all the tracks were recorded digitally.

In 1992 Cooder joined Nick Lowe, John Hiatt, and long time collaborator Jim Keltner in the band, Little Village, for one album before being disbanded.

In 1997 Cooder regrouped some of Cuba’s finest roots musicians to recorded the first million selling world album, Buena Vista Social Club. The success of BVSC thrust Eliades Ochoa and Ibrahim Ferrer into international limelight and caused numerous labels to follow suit with the release of their own World Music albums.

In 2005 Cooder mined an interest closer to his home with the release on the Nonesuch label, Chavez Ravine. Chavez Ravine was an area in east Los Angeles where poor hispanics lived until the 1950’s when City Planners decided to pave over the neighborhood and plant Dodger Stadium. Like the BVSC album Chavez Ravine includes a wonderful multipage colour booklet with lyrics, photographs, sketches and brief details on the scandal surrounding the reclaimination of Chavez Ravine. The music on the album includes what I assume to be tradtional Hispanic instrumentation with songs written specifically for this album. Nearly all the songs are sung in Spanish and the tyrics are intrepretated in the booklet. It’s a slow languid album with texture and space and, obviously, a heavy south of the border influence. Cooder’s use of numerous vocalists gives the album a sense of testimony from the Ravine’s inhabitants telling their stories.

Today Los Angles appears to be more of a quagmire than a community but this album gives the City of Angels a sense that at one time families lived in neighborhoods where conversations across driveways might have occurred. A similar sense is derived from Dave Alvin’s song, ’Dry River’ on the Blue Blvd album. Given time to unfold this is an exceedingly interest album that grows on the listener. Much like BVSC, Chavez Ravine will open up doors and take the listener to new and exciting auralscapes.

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