11 August 2010

Ry Cooder - I, Flathead

Ry Cooder is a man to admire. Master guitarist, musicologist and archivist, open-minded producer, guy behind Buena Vista Social Club. He taught Keith Richards about open tunings which resulted in the Stones' best work. He recorded a great soundtrack to Paris, Texas which he built on one riff by Blind Willie Johnson. And I, Flathead is his most recent release which closes a trilogy released on Nonesuch Records (Chavez Ravine and My Name Is Buddy).

I, Flathead is a concept album and there's a book included which I haven't read and I doubt I'll ever will. I like particular songs, particular sounds, I know this album is great, but it's beyond my tastes. Just with titles like "Johnny Cash", "Can I Smoke In Here?" and "Steel Guitar Heaven" it should be one of the releases of the year. Well no, it's not for me. I just can't really get into world music. It ruins things for me. If Cooder decided to record a stricte blues album, I'm sure I'd fall for him.

But his inspirations are much wider and more interesting for most, making me a kind of musical outcast. Listening to the Stooges, Gram Parsons and Miles Davis in a row is still a step before Cooder's music! His explorations of American music are clearly not for me, at least for now. Or maybe I'll take a listen to his "Boomer's Story"... While I love Tom Waits, this albums owns too much to him with all those crazy and weird sounds.

But even on I, Flathead there are moments. Not to mention great songs on his previous, quite similar albums, Chavez Ravine and My Name Is Buddy. Check out "Poor Man's Shangri-La" and some others, you'll know. I, Flathead is an album I wouldn't really mind listening with some friends at a party, but only in case we were all baked beyond recognition. ;^)

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