Chicken Skin Music
Among the loosest and warmest collections Ry Cooder ever recorded, Chicken Skin Music is notable for its introduction of Tex-Mex and Hawaiian styles into the repertoire of blues, country, and gospel Cooder had been mining since his debut. With a cast that features Tejano accordionist Flaco Jimenez and Hawaiian slack-key guitar legends Gabby Pahinui and Atta Isaacs (not to mention jazz titans Red Callender, Benny Powell, and Oscar Brashear) there is a familial atmosphere to Chicken Skin Music, as Cooder brings together roots musicians from all different genres in an expression of cohesion among the regional musical styles of the United States. Never one to play a straight cover, Cooder conducts a Tejano version of Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene” and turns Ben E. King’s pop-soul standard “Stand By Me” into accordion-inflected gospel. “Chicken skin” is Hawaiian slang for “goose bumps,” and there is indeed something warmly mysterious and slightly supernatural about the album’s once-in-a-lifetime gathering of talent.