The UFO Has Landed – The Ry Cooder Anthology (Rhino Entertainment, 2008)
‘Getting the goods’ and ‘I’ll take one with everything’ takes on a whole new meaning when you sidle up to the sounds on The UFO Has Landed – The Ry Cooder Anthology. Slapping down 34 tracks taken from four decades of the guitar legend’s extraordinary career on this 2-CD set, The UFO Has Landed is a giddily raucous, sinfully sizzling, howling good time. Chronicling a career that has readily dipped into [wiki:rock], [wiki:country], [wiki:folk], Hawaiian, Cuban, [wiki:blues], [wiki:jazz] and that famed Tex-Mex sound, this anthology reaches back in time and hits all the highlights of Mr. Cooder’s colossal musical narrative as a guitarist, producer and composer. Compiled by Mr. Cooder and his son Joachim, The UFO Has Landed pulls tracks from Mr. Cooder’s self-titled debut recording in 1970 and all along his career up to his 2008 release entitled I, Flathead.
The UFO Has Landed has a road trip feel to it. Sequencing tracks with the sassy opening Johnny Cash song “Get Rhythm,” up against the tangy grooves laid down on “Low – Commotion” and the lanky, sway back sound of “Available Space,” the first CD just gets better and better. The dark blues number “Do Re Mi,” the gospel tinged “The Very Thing That Makes You Rich (Makes Me Poor)” and the Cajun flash of the previously unreleased track “Let’s Work Together” with Buckwheat Zydeco and Jim Keltner sparkle like precious souvenirs. The gentle blush of “Maria Elena” and the expansively righteous sound of “Jesus on the Mainline” are bottled ephemeral moments that make this CD a sheer delight.
Opening disc two with the open-sky, dust-hazed flatlands licks of “Paris, Texas” and following it with the equally thick, twangy guitar sound of “Theme from Southern Comfort,” Mr. Cooder continues the musical road trip journey in style. The chuggy track “Tamp ‘Em Up Solid,” the folksy “Billy the Kid,” the kickass blues on “Feelin’ Bad Blues” and “Boomer’s Story” stick to the ribs like good road food should. If that weren’t enough, there are more goodies like the Blind Alfred Reed’s song “Always Lift Him Up/Kanaka Wai Wai,” Cooder’s “Theme from Alamo Bay” and Dan Penn’s and Chips Moman’s classic “Dark End of the Street.”
As the liner notes Mr. Cooder includes in the booklet to The UFO Has Landed will attest to he’s not forgotten where he came from, the musicians and film makers he’s worked with and all the songs he’s brushed up against. The booklet also has some great photos that go another step in marking Mr. Cooder’s fantastic career.
Better than a handful of refrigerator magnets, faded T-shirts or a stack of postcards, Mr. Cooder has planted down musical signposts all along his musical road trip The UFO Has Landed and we are all the better for having had the pleasure of riding shotgun.
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Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.