I was down in Virginia over the weekend, southwest Virginia, Blacksburg — a seemingly/peculiarly tranquil place, for this weekend at least.  A friend put me on to the new Ry Cooder album I, Flathead:The Songs of Kash Buk and the Klowns. I had heard the song “Can I Smoke In Here?” on the radio several weeks back, so I was curious and wanted to hear the rest of the record.  Apparently, this is the final installment in Ry Cooder’s “California trilogy” which began in 2005 with Chávez Ravine, an album about a Mexican-American community in Los Angeles that was demolished in the 1950s to build a stadium for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The second album, 2007’s My Name Is Buddy is also a “social-political concept album” which explores farm failures, the plight of laborers, strikes, hobos–and for all this, the stories are told from the perspective of a cat!
I, Flathead is about drag-racing in 1960s southern California. The narratives here are told from the perspective of the unfortunate Kash Buk, a former drag racer turn Country music singer. Buk plays beat-up roadhouses with his band the Klowns.
At this moment, I can only listen to the album in segments, certain songs are just too Country.  I like the bluesy fragments like the one below (and also the chicano and cumbia sounding pieces and some of the easy Western Swing joints)

Ry Cooder – Can I Smoke In Here?

Here’s a track from the excellent album by Mike Ladd, Negrophilia – inspired by a great book with the same title.  Ladd sez “If you have not read this book yet read it today! After reading it, bizarre phenomena like Elvis, Eminem, Condoleeza Rice and Modernism make sense..”

Mike Ladd – Sleep Patterns Of Black Expatriots Circa 1960

Click here for pictures of Mike Ladd and Ursula Rucker.