Ry Cooder, more than anyone who has touched the pop music scene, has done a great service to music lovers by resurrecting nearly-forgotten genres of indiginous American music.
From his early inspiration by Hawaiian slack-key guitar master Gabby Pahinui and the gritty, passionate Sleepy John Estes, to very early jazz forms to Tex/Mex to gospel, bluesy mandolin, Depression-era worksongs, the list is very long.
But you cannot accuse him of being a dilettante, because he is extremely respectful of all the traditions he explores, remaining true to their spirits while somehow adding his own distinctive imprint. His interests have ranged abroad in more recent years to India, East Africa and, most famously, Cuba.
Bop Till You Drop explores neglected corners of the rhythm íní blues genre. I am a 30-year enthusiastic fan of Ry Cooderís work, and I think this is one of his best. Start with ĹDown in Hollywood,Ĺ as tight a piece of funk as you will find.
The peerless Jim Keltner anchors the rhythm section with his drum work that manages to be aggressive and tightly restrained as well.
Chaka Khanís backup vocal is searing. Cooderís trademark combination of sly humor and get-down musicianship make this song a classic.
The gospel-based Trouble You Canít Fool Me and I Canít Win are masterpieces of vocal harmony.
I Canít Win is as poignant an unrequited love song as the best Motown ever produced.
The Very Thing is once again vintage Cooder, with its effortless, flawless backbeat rhythm, stunning vocal harmonies and just-right instrumental work.
The man knows how to put an album together. The cover of the old Ike and Tina Turner number Donít Mess Up a Good Thing is better than the original.