Picks and Pans Review: Borderline
Though he has performed with artists like Randy Newman, Captain Beefheart, Maria Muldaur and the Rolling Stones, and cut nine albums of his own, Ry Cooder is surprisingly unknown and certainly underappreciated. The problem seems to be that he has never developed a distinctive sound of his own, though his guitar work is sizzling and he has a knack for discovering and revivifying vintage pop tunes. This latest collection—a musical mother lode comparable to his best previous work, Paradise and Lunch—contains an eclectic mix of Tex-Mex tunes, line-drive rockers and one dashing instrumental. Pick of the lot are the classic 634-5789 (which happens to be a real phone number in many cities and should prompt a flurry of new calls, just as the original did in 1966) and a hilarious The Girls from Texas, both peppered with nifty guitar licks and vocal tricks. Another welcome mouth-to-ear resuscitation is Down in the Boondocks, delivered with appropriate poignancy. Fans hungry for instrumentals will want to give a listen to the handsome title cut, which is Cooder’s only composition of the 10.