Paradise and Lunch
In 1974, while songs like “Kung-Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas and Abba’s “Waterloo” were topping the charts, what was Ry Cooder up to? Well, he was playing duets with jazz legend Earl “Fatha” Hines on ragtime classics like Blind Blake’s “Diddy Wah Diddy,” of course. Iconoclasts don’t come more personable than Cooder, and Paradise and Lunch is as celebratory and fun as eccentricity can be. As usual, Cooder rematches and reconfigures song styles from across the spectrum, turning Bobby Womack’s “It’s All Over Now” to a Jamaican shuffle and Washington’s Phillips haunting 1929 church warning “You Can’t Stop a Tattler” into the warmly orchestrated ode to true love that is “Tattler.” Cooder’s take on Blind Willie McTell’s “Married Man’s A Fool” is one of his most rocking moments, but the highlight of the album is “Walls Don’t Talk.” With its layers of interlocked guitar and shuffling, chunky groove, Little Milton’s song about the trustworthy nature of inanimate objects rollicks with grinning jubilation.