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Vinyl Friday Returns, Ry Cooder’s California Trilogy Spotlighted

Monday, August 18: Chavez Ravine is a 2005 album from Ry Cooder that tells the story of an historically important Los Angeles neighborhood. Although the neighborhood was scheduled to be heavily developed with public housing and a better parks and school system in the 1950s, a series of events forced many of the families in the area to sell their homes, making way for a new stadium which would become home to the Dodgers when the baseball team left New York for Los Angeles. The album was nominated for a Grammy in 2006 and remains one of Cooder’s best-loved latter day works. We’ll hear selections from it as well as from Neil Young’s 1993 Unplugged album, featuring guitar work from August featured artist Nils Lofgren.

Tuesday, August 19: Listen for selections from the new release from Pennsylvania-based group Northern Arms. The Americana outfit draws on roots influences such as the blues and country music but also from composers such as Glenn Gould and visual artist Hieronymus Bosch. We’ll hear from that recording as well as from My Name Is Buddy, Ry Cooder’s 2007 concept album that recalls elements of the Great Depression via characters such as Buddy Red Cat, Lefty Mouse, and Reverend Tom Toad. It is a part of a trilogy from Cooder that began with 2005’s Chavez Ravine and ends with 2008’s I, Flathead.

  Wednesday, August 20: I, Flathead is the 2008 album from Ry Cooder that completed his so-called California trilogy. The album examines the life of a country musician, his fans, and a complex cast of characters populating Southern California sometime around the 1960s. We’ll hear from that as well as from Decimation Blues, the latest from the Portland, Oregon-based project Castanets. Led by Raymond Raposa, Castanets has been releasing records since 2004.

Thursday, August 21: After its impressive—and loud—1990 debut album, Facelift, the Seattle band Alice In Chains surprised fans with a quieter, acoustic-driven follow-up in the form of the 1992 EP Sap. Featuring guest appearances from Ann Wilson of Heart, members of Soundgarden, and Mudhoney, the record sold well despite being a minor release. It also set the template for the group’s later, more commercially successful EP Jar of Flies. Listen for selections from Sap and from Lost Dogs, the 2003 B-sides and rarities collection from Pearl Jam.

  Friday, August 22: It’s the return of Vinyl Friday. Boppin’ The Blues is a 1970 album from rock ‘n’ roll legend Carl Perkins with then up-and-coming band NRBQ. The record features songs penned by both members of NRBQ and Perkins himself. It is one of several collaborative efforts from NRBQ since the group’s recording career launched in the 1960s. Others include a collaboration with country legend Skeeter Davis and one with professional wrestler Captain Lou Albano. We’ll also hear from Still, the 1973 debut album from Pete Sinfield. Sinfield was lyricist for progressive rock band King Crimson from 1969-1972. By 1973 he was collaborating with Emerson, Lake and Palmer and the band signed him to its new label, Manticore. We’ll hear selections from both those records and many others.

Saturday, August 23: Trans is one of the most controversial records in Neil Young’s discography. In the early 1980s Young was working with new technology that would allow him to communicate with his son, Ben, who has cerebral palsy and is unable to communicate verbally. The record saw Young working with technology that was uncharacteristic of his guitar-driven music and resulted in a backlash from some fans. In subsequent years the album has gained a following, though it was central to a lawsuit filed against Young by his record label at the time which alleged that the Canadian-born artist was guilty or releasing albums that were too uncharacteristic of himself. The record features work from August featured artist Nil Lofgren. We’ll hear from that as well as from Crazy Horse, the 1974 self-titled debut from the band that has been backing Neil Young since the early 1970s. The record also features Nils Lofgren and our other featured artist for the month, Ry Cooder, on three songs.