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ON CD > REVIEWING THE MUSIC.

Ry Cooder

"I, Flathead" Nonesuch/Perro Verde - Four stars

Native Santa Monican Cooder finishes his California trilogy ("Chavez Ravine," "My Name Is Buddy") with a marvelously eccentric and eclectic collection built around some mad, postwar car racing/traveling band/carny lowlife/alien visitation narrative. And he's actually written a novella to go with it (the book also serves as CD packaging). Haven't read it, but the disc's quite wild, blessed with great gut-bucket attitude and some of the best guitar licks Cooder's slid off since he worked with the Rolling Stones. Speaking of which, there's a swell, Sticky Fingered sweet-talking-a-cheerleader shuffle called "Ridin' With the Blues."

Then there's "Spayed Kooley," about a dog not too different from his wife-murdering namesake. As well as odes to more obscure musicians.

And Filipino dance hostesses. Did I mention the least sentimental Johnny Cash tribute yet? Plus big, satisfying mariachi slices. And amusing stretches of deadbeat dialogue. Frankly, I can't begin to ponder what it's all meant to add up to. But it sure sounds like funky SoCal musical expertise at its finest.

>Bob Strauss

Dennis Wilson

"Pacific Ocean Blue -- Legacy Edition" (Caribou/Epic/Legacy) - Four stars

Out of print for almost its entire 31-year existence, the Beach Boys drummer's one-and-only solo album has achieved mythic status among rock snobs since its release in 1977. This is the rare case, though, where the art justifies the hype, and this loving reissue almost makes it seem OK that it has been unavailable all these years.

The first disc of this two-CD set presents the aching beauty of "Pacific Ocean Blue" in its entirety. The music owes an obvious debt to his brother Brian, but its blend of '70s rock, bluesy, soulful riffs, gospel attitude and orchestrated Southern California pop is purely its own entity. The second disc, though not quite as good, is more of the same, presenting what would have been Wilson's follow-up effort, "Bambu," had "Pacific Ocean" sold or Wilson been more diligent in making a go of a solo career.

Given Wilson's early death, it would be easy to romanticize these recordings. But listen to the music. The nakedly emotional content and intimate presentation rival masterworks like Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks." My advice: Buy it now before it disappears again.

>Glenn Whipp

Luke Doucet and the White Falcon

"Blood's Too Rich" Six Shooter/Warner - Three stars

Ellen Page isn't the only remarkably enjoyable weirdling to come out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Inventive singer-songwriter Doucet has a charming way with words and a gift for jangly song construction that echoes The Beatles at its best and Tommy James and the Shondells when it, um, isn't. Overall, "Blood's Too Rich" is less classic pop than it is a quirky, very personal expansion of well-loved folk idioms; I mean, how many Canadian truck driving anthems have you heard? Kooky, beguiling and quite musically accomplished.

>Bob Strauss
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Title Annotation:LA.COM
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 29, 2008
Words:481
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