Ry Cooder - guitars, vocals, mandolin; Russ Titelman - bass; Jim Keltner - percussion, drums; Milt Holland - percussion, drums; Bobby King - backing vocals; Gene Memford - backing vocals; Cliff Givens - backing vocals
Ry Cooder remains one of the very few studio icons who has gained the reputation as a "musician's musician." This recording from KSAN's broadcast series, captured at the Record Plant in Sausalito, California, is essentially a solo acoustic show with Cooder, although longtime associates Jim Dickinson and Jim Keltner participate on bass and drums, respectively.
Cooder was promoting his third solo album, Paradise & Lunch, which most critics still regard as his best LP to date. Personable, humorous, and unquestionably talented, this intimate performance by Cooder is a long lost gem in his long and well-celebrated career. He performs a wide spectrum of material that includes covers and originals from his then-current and previous Warner Brother's albums. Whether it's a Depression-era styled blues classic, such as "Police Dog Blues," or Little Miton's "If The Walls Could Talk," Cooder is a master at the craft of blending smooth vocals and tasteful guitar licks around a compelling storyline song. If you don't love the characters he sings about, you are bound to love his true musicianship, which has graced hundreds of recordings by the likes of James Taylor and The Rolling Stones.
Beginning his professional career in 1963 in a little-known blues band that included pop vocalist Jackie DeShannon, Ry Cooder has become a mainstay in the California studio scene, as well as developed into one of brightest stars on the "Americana" radio format. After trying and failing to gain stardom in a band called Rising Sons in 1965 (with bandmates Taj Mahal and Ed Cassidy, who later formed Spirit), he was brought in to do session work for artists as diverse as Captain Beefheart, Randy Newman, Little Feat, Van Dyke Parks, Gordon Lightfoot and several others. He contributed a mandolin track on the Stones' classics Let It Bleed and was also prominently featured on Sticky Fingers, where he contributed his trademark slide guitar.
By the early '80s, Cooder had also become one of the most prolific film soundtrack composers and musicians. He has contributed to over 30 films including Blue Collar; The Long Riders; The Border; Paris, Texas; Streets of Fire; Alamo Bay; Cocktail; Johnny Handsome; Steel Magnolias, and Geronimo. At the same time he developed a love for bringing to the forefront many unknown musicians who helped him create recordings in a wide spectrum of titles including Tex-Mex, African, rock 'n' roll, blues, reggae, Hawaiian, jazz, country, folk, R&B, Cuban, and gospel music.
Cooder continues to record, tour and compose movie soundtracks. Among the highlights from this Record Plant session are "Police Dog Blues," "F.D.R. in Trinidad," "If Walls Could Talk," "Billy The Kid," and "Comin' In On a Wing and a Prayer," which he dedicated to then-President Nixon for his mishandling of the Vietnam War. Ironically, less than four weeks after this recording was made, Nixon resigned from his presidency.