Two years after 1972's Boomer's Story, Ry Cooder released his fourth album, Paradise & Lunch. On his first three albums he had showcased his scholarly knowledge of American roots music forms, performing new arrangements of old, often obscure folk and blues tunes. Paradise & Lunch continued in this vein, but it introduced new gospel and soul flavours to his sound through his use of a host of fantastic backing singer (chief among them being Bobby King, who would sing on almost all Cooder albums from this moment onwards). How Cooder manages to blend these different strains of folk, blues, soul, and gospel (plus a bit of jazz) together into a cohesive whole is what makes his music so brilliant. His sound is the sound of America, and Paradise & Lunch is generally considered his crowning glory. The material ranges from songs by blues guitarist Blind Willie McTell and soul singer Bobby Womack, to selections from more obscure (and almost forgotten) artists such as Washington Phillips and Arthur Blake. The musicians backing him include drummers Milt Holland and Jim Keltner, bass guitarist Chris Ethridge, jazz bassist Red Callender, organist Ronnie Barron, pianist Earl Hines and many others.
Boomer's Story (1972) <|> Chicken Skin Music (1976)
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