Posts Tagged ‘Paradise And Lunch’

Paradise And Lunch

Ry Cooder understands that a great song is a great song, whether it was written before the Depression or last week. Still, at the same time he isn’t afraid to explore new avenues and possibilities for the material. Like his three previous records, Paradise and Lunch is filled with treasures which become part of a world where eras and styles converge without ever sounding forced or contrived. One may think that an album that contains a traditional railroad song, tunes by assorted blues greats, and a Negro spiritual alongside selections by the likes of Bobby Womack, Burt Bacharach, and Little Milton may lack cohesiveness or merely come across as a history lesson, but to Cooder this music is all part of the same fabric and is as relevant and accessible as anything else that may be happening at the time. No matter when it was written or how it may have been done in the past, the tracks, led by Cooder’s brilliant guitar,

Truly a musician’s musician, guitarist Ry Cooder has been a bridge connecting contemporary audiences to a dizzying variety of traditional musics for almost half a century. His ongoing career includes a string of acclaimed albums for Reprise, of which Paradise And Lunch was his fourth release – and one of his best.

Produced by Russ Titelman and Lenny Waronker, the 1974 collection touches on blues, gospel, jazz and folk, with Ry applying his distinctive stamp to such highlights as “Jesus on the Mainline,” The album also includes Cooder’s updated arrangement of bluesman Washington Phillips’ song “The Tattler” that stands out for its guitar playing, It was subsequently covered by Linda Ronstadton her 1976 album Hasten Down the Wind

Other tracks like “Ditty Wah Ditty,” which features Earl “Fatha” Hines on piano. Here both musicians are given plenty of room to showcase their instrumental prowess, and the results are nothing short of stunning. Eclectic, intelligent, and thoroughly entertaining, Paradise and Lunch remains Ry Cooder’s masterpiece. Though there are other stellar instrumentalists (including saxophonist Plas Johnson and drummer Jim Keltner) supporting the headliner’s faultless fretwork, Cooder’s down-home vocals are just as important to the set’s soulful appeal, and Paradise And Lunch is heaven for roots rock fans.

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