- 14 May 18
Bring out the fattened calf!
Since 1987’s rollicking Get Rhythm, Ry Cooder has veered from interesting collaborations with Ali Farka Touré (Talking Timbuktu) and Manuel Galbán (Mambo Sinuendo), not to mention the world-conquering Buena Vista Social Club, to more challenging political albums (from Chavez Ravine to Election Special).
Rejoice then for The Prodigal Son, a collection of spirituals and choice originals, combining the feeling of ‘Jesus Is On The Mainline’ (Paradise And Lunch), the glorious slide on his reading of ‘Dark End Of The Street’ (Boomer’s Story), and the yearning in ‘I Can’t Win’ (Bop Till You Drop).
‘Everybody Ought To Treat A Stranger Right’ and ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ see Cooder return to Blind Willie Johnson – the slide motif borrowed from Johnson's ‘Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground’ formed the basis of the celebrated Paris, Texas soundtrack. Johnson contracted malarial fever, but no hospital would take this broke, blind, black man, so he died, badly, in 1945. Twenty-two years later, Carl Sagan included the song on the gold record launched with the Voyager probe, as a representation of the human experience. Know a better story about the power of music? I doubt it.