- An Amazon.com Best of 2005 selection.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
More Ry Cooder
Buena Vista Social Club (producer and performer)
Mambo Sinuendo (with Manuel Galbán)
A Meeting by the River (with V.M. Bhatt)
Paradise and Lunch (solo)
Music by Ry Cooder (film music compilation)
Into the Purple Valley (solo)
Top Customer Reviews
But why buy THIS album? How about 'cause it's stone-cold brilliant, capturing the late 1940s and 50s when the polyglot but predominantly Hispanic neighborhood at Chávez Ravine was displaced to allow what would become "Dodger Stadium" and orderly rows of suburban housing to replace the slightly hectic disorder previously there. But understand that this isn't a rabble-rousing album, or a call to arms; it's a reminder of what's gone by, hearkening to Don Normark's photographic study (also called *Chavez Ravine*, 1999), and it recognizes the fanatically purposeful energy that channelized and paved the L.A. River (see Blake Gumprecht's *L.A. River*, now in paperback). I'll take this musical treatment (with plenty of voices in it, though, and an astounding variety of themes) over the blunt muckraking of a Mike Davis anyday -- this is inspired stuff, in a huge assortment of styles, bringing in a number of the musical lights of Chávez Ravine in the era. They're mixed together, elegantly, and very nicely produced.
Favorites?Read more ›
The album that has resulted from his interest is, then, a political statement about the legacy of Joe McCarthy, an elegy about old neighborhoods paved over by a twisted sense of progress, and an amazing group of songs showing the deep gift of Mexican-American music.
With the same cool touch and deep affection that Cooder already demonstrated for Malian music (Talkin' Timbuktu) and Cuban grooves (Mambo Sinuendo and Buena Vista Social Club), Ry gathered a host of incredible Mexican-American musicians from the Fifties, to invoke the spirit of this story.
Ersi Arbizu, Lalo Guerrero, Don Tosti and Little Willie G. -all great performers, most of which may be unknowns to most of us- take turns singing songs that conjure up the longings, loves and betrayals from the Chavez Ravine odyssey.
Now, let's be clear, do not think this is ethnographic research for the Smithsonian archives or a dry document of music gone by.
This album grooves ("Poor Man's Shangri-La" or "Onda Callejera") and gets down ("Muy Fifi" and "3 Cool Cats") as well as it will move you with some slow burners ("It's Just Work For Me") and beautiful ballads ("In My Town," "3rd Base, Dodgers Stadium" and "Soy Luz Y Sombra").
In conclusion, this is some of the most soulful music you may come across this year. It proves, too, that you can move your body with abandon and reflect on serious issues at once.
Meaning and grooving, with passion and concern, master Cooder takes us for another ride through the real America, where great and forgotten voices get to sing aloud again.
It's still one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world, but it was years before I learned that it rests on the site (in some cases, even on the ruins) of what was once a "Poor Man's Shangri-La," the three Mexican-American communities of Chavez Ravine. Spanning more than a decade, it's a sad tale, one of idealism twisted by red-baiting, racism, corrupt city officials, rampant deception and the power of Big Money.
In "Chavez Ravine," Ry Cooder (perhaps best known for "Buena Vista Social Club") tells the story of Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop as no one has before. Inspired by the photos of Don Normark, Cooder reignites the soul of Chavez Ravine in a marvelous blend of musical genre, lyrics and language. You'll hear voices since stilled by the years (Lalo Guerrero and Don Tosti), lost songs rediscovered ("Chinito, Chinito"), the visit and plea of a Space Vato ("El U.F.O. Cayo) and the memories of a 94-year-old hero ("Don't Call Me Red").
It's clear from Cooder's introduction in the excellent booklet that accompanies the CD that "Chavez Ravine" is not only a lament for the loss of a the Ravine's communities, but also for the urbanization of what once made Los Angeles so special. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, I remember orange groves, unexpected old villages and semi-rural adventurelands--all now covered by big box retailers and faceless tract homes.
Indeed, in much of the U.S. West, we have all lived the sad tale of Chavez Ravine. The power of Cooder's "Chavez Ravine" is how it remembers, retells, celebrates and mourns what we once had in plenty and now is slipping away.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An album that's almost too good to be true! the real story behind the building of Doger Statium and the mistreatment of Mexican American citizens by all those trying a mack a buck... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Steve Z
Amazing album. Delivered intact with liner notes. Good experience.Published 20 months ago by Erik Sandoval
I first laid eyes on this cd when I was on vacation in Hawaii of all places in October of 2010....I was at Borders book store and there it was.. Read morePublished on April 3, 2014 by Gregory Fujita
Ry spent most of career somewhere around LA, mainly in the desert east of Lancaster or along the Tex-Mex border. Here he gets into LA like music could be history. Read morePublished on March 6, 2014 by william mathews
Whenever I hear a superbly produced enticingly different and very musical song, many times it is by Ry Cooder. Read morePublished on October 20, 2013 by Max
I think there was a slight blemish on the CD but this is used, and it did not affect playing.
Arrived right away. Box was perfect. NIce CD.
Terrific instrumentals and vocals, great tunes and production values. Read the liner notes twice before listening to the CD, enjoyed the experience more because of it. Read morePublished on March 20, 2013 by gardener
If you are a fan of Ry Cooder, this is for you. Though somewhat eclectic, he still hits the american rock,the spanish/mexican themes and folky americana. Read morePublished on November 3, 2012 by limedust