Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ry Cooder: Paradise and Lunch [Reprise, 1974]
Cooder's problematic vocal authority has always made it harder for him to establish the practicability of the traditional rural values he treasures in the urban '70s. So his transformation of Bacharach-David's "Mexican Divorce" into a folk song that stands alongside Willie McTell's "Married Man's a Fool" is very encouraging. And though what impresses me about this album is its perfection of tone, what wins my love is the anomalous "Ditty Wa Ditty." A-