|1||Solar sex panel||3.47|
|5||Take another look||3.40|
|6||Do you want my Job||5.36|
|8||Fool who knows||3.46|
|9||She runs hot||3.19|
|10||Don't think about her when you're trying to drive||4.33|
|11||Don't bug me when I'm working||3.56|
Total running time:
|do with me what you want to do||2:16|
|Executive Producer:||Lenny Waronker|
|Engineered and Mixed:||
|Production Assistant:||Gail Pierson|
|cover photograph:||charles imsteph|
|band photograph:||jeffrey newbury|
|incidental photography:||susan titelman|
|neon sign:||larry allbright studios|
little village wishes to
thank lenny waronker, milton wexler, gail pierson and bob telson.
special thanks from ry to susan cooder, joachim cooder, tony berlant, jim demeter, fat dog, danny farrington, candice hanson, michelle manning, kenny price, steve ripley, fred suart - fender custom shop, rick turner, fred walecki and westwood music, the interval foundation for the use of their instruments: wilbur george, jonathan glaser, bill westey.
john wishes to thank will botwin and side one management.
jim would like to thank ross garfield, lee, paul and tom at drum doctors; don lombardi and john goode at drum workshop; eric paiste and rich mangicaro at paiste; carol calato and jan deuro at calato; remo, rick drumm and george barret at remo; jay jones and bob gatzen at noble and cooley; chris ryan and mike brucher at KAT; DDrum; reek havoc at drastik plasik; gary null and everyone at EMU; michael stewart and arnie christensen at aphex; bruce stratton at coast recording; jon briion for the use of his mellotron; t. bone burnett and mitch froom for their kindness and generosity; linda allen for her patience; my children; eric, jennifer and eli; and most of all, my wife, cyntia.
john hiatt uses d'addario strings, fender and gibson guitars, shure microphones and lexicon.
jim keltner uses d w drums, paiste cymbals, calato sticks, remo heads and KAT controller.
When it was announced that Ry Cooder, John Hiatt, Jim Keltner and Nick Lowe were getting together to form what used to be called an all≠ star line-up, the odds for success were deemed even at best. Here, after all, was a quartet of the most iconoclastic, inspired and occasionally ornery individuals ever to assemble in a cramped recording facility. With over a century of combined musical muscle between them, these fellas had learned to do it their way... or not at all.
Imagine then, the surprise (and sighs of relief). when Little Village, an actual collection of eleven never-before-heard songs, was delivered, intact and on time (sort of), to the slightly damp palms of Reprise Records' eager staffers. And they say there's no God...
Little Village, the debut album by the band, does however spur a flurry of pressing questions. Among them: Is there a statute of limitations on rock stardom? .What, precisely, is a Solar Sex Panel? And where, exactly, is EI Monte?
To answer these and other pertinent concerns, we re-assembled Little Village for a bit of freewheeling give and take, proving, once and for all that these guys can really dish it out. Highlights follow:
Q: What was the origin of Little Village?
Ry: For years I thought I was missing' something because, for my money, bands make the best music. It might be the Louie Armstrong/Earl Hines band or Sleepy John Estes and Hammy Nixon or whatever, but you get a buzz that way...a spin. Things happen that you can't predict and sometimes you get more than just what you put into it. Anyway, I've been slogging along for awhile, having an okay time, but I realized that I really wanted to be in just that kind of unpredictable situation. I wanted, to be pulled along by something in an unknown direction. Keltner, who I've worked with for going on twenty years, and I talked a lot about this and when we got together to do John's Bring The Family with Nick on -bass, we came up 'with a' really good quartet sound. Eventually, amorphously, it just kind of pulled itself together. It's miraculous, I think.
John: This has been a humbling experience, learning to work with other' people, which I don't do well. I'm grateful to have, come to this point to have the opportunity to collaborate. It's really exciting, especially with this group. of guys. Here, who you are is as important as how you make music. We're all trying some new things, taking a few risks, trusting.
Jim: I've always wanted to be in a band but early on I got into the studio thing and I got spoiled by the recording process...that kind of instant gratification. When I did think about being in a band I wondered what sort of unit I'd like to be a part of. After ,we did bring the family I thought, 'this is it,' but it seemed impossible to pull together. The timing wasn't right. Now that the timing is right, I'm ecstatic. This is ideal.
Nick: In most, bands there's usually one guy who can write tunes and the other three are the ones he's picked up along the way. 'Then, I if they get a hit, the frontman,. usually starts firing' people' which, funnily enough, is when their sound starts going. The difference with this group,' itís totally equal...we're all 25% a piece.
Q: What were your expectations going in?
John: None, beyond just wanting to, have the experience. I knew there was gold here to be mined. When you play with these guys, you're going to learn something. So much of the process was letting the music lead. We had just enough trust, courage and ignorance to tag along and see where it went. We never really had it, it just let us know when it was there.
Ry: I've always made it my business to experiment...that's the only way you learns anything and finally you take all your knowledge and skill and try to shape something that's new and fun. I've never been in a band... i always thought bands were a hot bed of fighting and contention and that you had to throw TV sets out the window, or something. I'm pleased to report that hasn't happened so far.
Jim: Keith Richards says that on any given night any band could be the best in the world. I anticipate a few nights like that. There's no guarantee, but this is as close to pulling it off as I've been. We've all got attitudes, which means, you have to do a dance sometimes, but if I'm going to have to dance with somebody; these would be the guys.
Q: "How did the songwriting process evolve?
Jim: When you have a band of full equals ,there has to be a real selfless attitude. It just can't work any other way. We all seemed to know what was good and not so good.
Ry: You wait to see what's' going to work...you look for tile signs. Ideas start to accumulate and gather their own momentum and pretty soon it's like greased lightning. The ballads are the ones to watch because they' have to be real. Anybody can rock and twang and get off on the energy and hope for the best, but a ballad has to touch the emotions.
Nick: All the songs on the record were written for the occasion. If we had one sort of rule, it was that no one was allowed to come to the group with songs they'd already written. We had to make it up by scratch. It wouldn't have worked if we were all trying to take charge. I was astonished how well it worked; I rarely find anyone i can feel comfortable writing with. In this case, everything came out of the music, a natural progression.
John: All you need to write a song is a little something to kick you over the edge. Ry is always collecting titles, like the song "She Runs Hot." My natural inclination was to put it in a car motif and place it in Harden County, Tennessee, where Iíve been spending some time lately. A popular bootlegging territory. "Don't Think About Her When You're Trying To Drive" was, again, a Ry title. When we started working on the words together we'd fax version back and forth, me In Nashville and Ry in L.A. That's the way things evolved.
Q: Did the personalities mesh as well as the music?
John: We all have a lot of respect for each other. That helps. I've, worked with Ry since 1980, and he's taught me a lot. He was the first guy, I felt, that really liked the way I played guitar. It meant a lot to me. Nick is a natural bass player with a sound you can hang your hat on. Jim is the most musical drummer I've ever worked with. He's the secret ingredient for the band... the outside curve ball that made it all interesting.
Ry: And, of course, when you meet someone with John's abilities, the job is to look for an opportunity to do something together.
Jim: All these guys are pretty volatile, ,with real tempers, which makes the fact that 'we all got along so amazing. I, liked the way the whole thing was built.. There are times when you're playing with someone when you wish to God whoever it is whoís rushing or dragging would get it together. With this band when we're off, we seem to be all off together."
Nick: Working with Ry is like being in a band with your dad... a rather agreeable thought, really. Heís a man who likes his privacy, and in order to achieve that he maintains a sort of grumpy shell. He reminds me of Mr. Wilson in Dennis The Menace. We've all got a funny sort of relationship where we groove on each other, but at arm's length. In order to make it work, we have to maintain some distance. so it's fresh when We come together.
Q; What was the recording process like?
Ry: The studio is a room about twenty by twenty. It's not soundproof, so when a bus goes by you just wait until it passes. It's a garage. vibe. We'd show up about noon, and maybe someone would have a riff or a lyric and we'd sit and play with it and maybe around three, if it sounds like a song-- you don't even have to be positive Ė weíd turn on the machine and find out. There was no sense in trying to cut off all the rough edges. We felt our way through this record. We didn't have to beat it into shape.
Nick: We worked very sensible and sociable and gentlemanly hours which is not what I'm normally accustomed to. We concentrated very hard which, by the end of the day, left me rather tired...but happy.
Q: What are some of your favorite tracks?
Ry: "Action" is about a place to go where people are making their own fun. Like I used to hear this guy screaming on the radio about EI Monte Legion Stadium and, there I was, ten years old, sitting in Santa Monica and I just knew it was hot. Turns out El Monte is where George Barris had his custom car shop, where Paul Bixby invented the Bixby Trailor Break Guitar next to the junk yard. Moon hub caps. were made there...it was where the action was.
Jim: "Don't Go Away Mad" was a Iittle experiment I did with some cheesy sounding guitar samples put together with sound effects, gongs and things, in this odd little format. I played it for Ry who liked it and sent it to Hiatt who put on the words and a melody over my chord structure. Think it came out great. My writing sometimes confuses people. But these guys can turn my little notions into full blown songs. They know exactly what to do.
Nick: "Solar Sex PanelĒ is a very cheerful song for people who find themselves losing their hair. The idea is that it's really a divine intervention that you're developing this patch on your head to, take rays in that will improve your life in every way.
Jim: It's about not worrying when you get bald. It just means you've got more testosterone than other guys, that's all.
Ry: Actually, it's an ecological love song that simply says love energy is clean and non-polluting. We're burning clean.
Q: How does it feel starting a band at this juncture in your career?
John: I read a story the other day that referred to us as all over forty. yours truly is only 39, folks... me and jack Benny. You're as old as you feel. When I was a kid, the guy's making rock and roll records all looked old enough to be my parents. What were they doing at that age, dressed up like that and making that kind of music? Seemed like they never had to grow up.
Jim: Iím the only one that ever seems to talk about being old. I have a twenty-year-old son, who tells me I look cool and play good and that helps. Actually, Iíve got more energy now than I did when I was twenty. All through my twenties I had a stomach ache, it seems. All through my Thirties I was badly hung over. By the time I got to my forties I started getting it together. I feel like I'm finally grooving.
Ry: We've got a lot of years among us in the record business. We all know what the game is and it's a good one... a good job. We'd all like to sell some records just because it would complete the picture. We donít have to set the world on fire, but we naturally want to connect.
Q: Will Little Village be playing live?
John: We're gearing up to actually go and air it out. It's a fun, scary, interesting prospect. I don't think any of us know exactly what it's going to sound like.
Nick: Except that it won't be the conventionally slick rendering of the record. It's going to be much more dangerous and funny. I had a vivid dream when we were doing the record that we were on stage and we were doing "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate and I thought it was very cool idea. I still do.
Q: How much of the Little Village sound is a reflection of what's come before?
Ry: There comes a point when, you have to say that influences and interesting trips and stops along the way are only part of what you've learned and you've got to use what you know in a new way. That's What makes this ≠band so exciting to be involved in.
Promotion video photo's
An early-'90s supergroup, Little Village is composed of string wizard Ry Cooder, tunesmith John Hiatt, English bassist Nick Lowe, and session drummer extraordinaire Jim Keltner. All four musicians originally played as a unit in 1987 on Hiatt's breakthrough album Bring the Family. In that context, all but Hiatt were sidemen. Four years later they collectively wrote and recorded their self-titled debut CD. Although the record was a bit of a disappointment, the live shows were superb.