Ry Cooder – Paris, Texas

More Ry Cooder

  • The sound here is bigger and livelier than any other we played – above all it’s balanced, avoiding the tonality issues we heard on so many other pressings
  • 4 stars: “Suggestive of both the imagery of Wim Wenders’ movie Paris, Texas and the desert itself, Ry Cooder’s score is a peaceful, poetic journey into the soul of an acoustic guitar… a powerful and immensely evocative journey for those whose experience with the material is the album alone.”
  • If you’re a fan of Ry Cooder’s, this classic from 1985 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1985 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This vintage Warner Brothers pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the Best Sides of Paris, Texas Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1985
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Paris, Texas

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Paris, Texas
Brother
Nothing Out There
Canción Mixteca
No Safety Zone
Houston In Two Seconds

Side Two

She’s Leaving The Bank
On The Couch
I Knew These People
Dark Was The Night

AMG 4 Star Review

Suggestive of both the imagery of Wim Wenders’ movie Paris, Texas and the desert itself, Ry Cooder’s score is a peaceful, poetic journey into the soul of an acoustic guitar. “Paris, Texas,” “Brothers,” and “Nothing Out There” open the album as meditative blends of guitar twang and scratching ambient effects. The songs move at a pretty, slow place, and the opening track sees Cooder plucking his guitar’s strings and letting that sound vibrate into thin air; it’s a motif that he returns to repeatedly throughout the score. There’s a bit of both humor and mystery to the stillness and the echoing, edgy sound effects that crop up.

“Cancion Mixteca” includes a memorable turn on vocals by Harry Dean Stanton, singing in Spanish. “No Safety Zone” is almost completely ambient in its ethics, with fleeting experimental guitar playing, as the song works more as a mood-setter than a traditional song. “I Knew These People” begins with an extended segment of dialogue from the film before Cooder’s somber guitar creeps in. The effect of the dialogue makes the track a fine, artistic statement, but the moment works better in the context of the movie than as a track on an album. The dialogue comes from a scene where the characters played by Stanton and Nastassja Kinski have a particularly emotional meeting.

The majority of the score is delicate and stunningly pretty. The overall sense is that Cooder was reaching for spare, emotional movements. The score is stark, quiet, and as uplifting as it is sad. Cooder makes the music sound as modern and stylish as acoustic music can sound. The album is at once alien and organic. Since “I Knew These People” includes dialogue from Paris, Texas, the score works best for people who have seen the movie, but it’s still a powerful and immensely evocative journey for those whose experience with the material is the album alone.

Film Background

Paris, Texas is a 1984 road movie directed by Wim Wenders and starring Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, Nastassja Kinski, and Hunter Carson. The screenplay was written by L. M. Kit Carson and playwright Sam Shepard, while the musical score was composed by Ry Cooder. The film was a co-production between companies in France and West Germany, and was shot in the United States by Robby Müller.

The plot focuses on a vagabond named Travis (Stanton) who, after mysteriously wandering out of the desert in a dissociative fugue, attempts to reunite with his brother (Stockwell) and seven-year-old son (Carson). After reconnecting with his son, Travis and the boy end up embarking on a voyage through the American Southwest to track down Travis’ long-missing wife (Kinski).

At the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, the film won the Palme d’Or from the official jury, as well as the FIPRESCI Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. It went on to win other honors and critical acclaim.

-Wikipedia

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