Ry Cooder’s original compositions have the texture of finely tooled saddle leather (`Leaving Missouri’ and `Seneca Square Dance’ are awesome), but its the renditions of the antique ballads and rally tunes from the Civil War era that really steal the show here, particularly `I’m A Good Old Rebel,’ `Jesse James,’ and `Wildwood Boys (not sure if that’s original, but James Keach gives a wonderful, broken whiskey glass rendition that might’ve drifted around Jesse’s campfire had he sung it himself).
There’s a nice bit of spoken word from the late lamented Harry Carey Jr., and the final arrangement of `Jesse James’ is a real kicker.
Most of this stuff sounds like its done with the original instruments - kudos to Ry Cooder for having the appreciation to dig deep and blow the dust of some of the best music to be revitalized in the past decade (also see `The Buena Vista Social Club’).
This is a man who loves and understands music and the rich history behind it.
One reviewer pointed out that `Jack of Diamonds’ is missing, though it was in the film.
True - that’s a great track. I don’t know why it wasn’t included or where you could track down that recording (if it exists), but the song is called `Rye Whiskey’ and I know there’s a Tex Ritter CD that has it and it sounds pretty good.