Kooper, Al


Band members                         Related acts

- Al Kooper -- vocals, keyboards, guitar

 

  1971 backing musicians

- Rita Coolidge -- backing vocals

- Vanetta Fields -- backing vocals

- Herbie Flowers -- bass

- Mike Gately -- backing vocals

- Paul Humphries -- drums

- Robert John -- backing vocals

- Carol Kaye -- bass

- Clydie King -- backing vocals

- Robbie Montgomery -- backing vocals

- Dorothy Morrison -- backing vocals

- Sneeky Pete -  pedal steel guitar

- Roger Pope -- drums, percussion

- Bobbi Hall Porter -- percussion

- Caleb Quaye -- lead guitar

- Jay Seigal -- backing vocals

- Louie Shelton -- guitar

- Jessie Smith -- backing vocals

- Julia Tillman -- backing vocals

- Donna Weiss -- backing vocals

- Bobby West -- bass

- Maxine Willard -- backing vocals

- Edna Wright -- backing vocals

 

 

 

  1976 backing musicians

- Little Beaver -- lead guitar

- Ron Bogdon -- bass

- J.R. Cobb -- guitar

- Gary Coleman -- percussion

- Robert Ferguson -- drums

- Steve Gibson -- rhythm guitar

- Paul Goddard -- bass

- Mike Leech -- bass

- Harry Lokofsky -- violin

- Larry Londin -- drums

- Nomis Nhoj -- noissucrep  (aka John Simon -- percussion)

- Robert Nix -- drums

- George Perry -- bass

- Marvin Stamm -- trumpet

- Wendy Waldman -- background vocals

- Joe Walsh -- slide guitar

- Bobby Wood -- keyboards

- Reggie Young -- guitar

- Tubby Zeigler -- drums

 

 

 

 

- Blood, Sweat and Tears

- The Blues Project

- Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  New York City (You' a Woman)

Company: Columbia

Catalog: C 30506
Year:
 1971

Country/State: Brooklyn, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD $15.00

 

Yes, I know Al Kooper's considered rock royalty.  Yes, I know he's played on every album seemingly known to mankind.  As an A&R man he discovered lots of bands, produced tons of albums, etc. etc.   Against that backdrop I have to admit that my first couple of forays into his recording catalog weren't particularly enjoyable.  

 

Against that backdrop, I'll readily admit much of 1971's "New York City (You' a Woman)" struck me as a major surprise.  Quite commercial and accomplished, this might have been the place for me to start exploring Kooper's solo works.  From a logistical standpoint the collection was interesting in that it stitched together material recorded from two sessions.  About two thirds of the album found Kooper working with an extensive list of  L.A. sessions players, while the rest of the collection featured backing from members of the UK band Hookfoot (guitarist Caleb Quayle and drummer Roger Pope - better known for their forthcoming support to Elton John).  Maybe because I own some of the Hookfoot LPs and have listened to so much Elton John over the years, it was pretty easy to figure out which songs were recorded with the L.A. sessions players. and which ones featured the UK players (hint, lots of female backing singers are not found on the Hookfoot numbers).  Stylistically the album was all over the place with Kooper taking stabs at blues-rock ('The Ballad of the Hard Rock Kid'), funk ('Dearest  Darling'), gospel ('The Warning (Someone's On the Cross Again'), and Elton John-styled pop ('Come Down In Time').

 

- Based on the liner notes, the title track was part of an extended composition entitled 'New York City 6 a.m., to Midnight'.   I don't know enough about Kooper's catalog to tell you whether the extended composition ever saw the light of day.   I can tell you that this section was pretty impressive love song to the Big Apple.  Anyone know what the backward tape section at the end of the song translated to ?   rating: *** stars

- With a folkie, Americana flavor, 'John the Baptist (Holy John)' sounded like Kooper doing his best  impersonation of The Band.  Probably the album's most interesting number, Columbia tapped it as a single.  Not sure which one came first, but Blood, Sweat & Tears covered the song on their 1971 album "BS&T 4 (1971)".   rating: **** stars

- Kooper's arrangement of 'Can You Hear It Now (500 Miles)' gave the song a southern soul influence that was actually quite nice.  Rita Coolidge was featured on the track.   rating: *** stars

- The album's best blues-rocker, for a guy best known for his keyboards, 'The Ballad of the Hard Rock Kid' went a long way to showcasing Kooper's guitar chops.  Interesting arrangement with Lou Shelton and Kooper trading riffs towards the end of the song ...  Yeap, his roaring guitar was the highlight on this one.   rating: *** stars

- 'Going Quietly Mad' sounded like a "White Album" era John Lennon and the Beatles track.  Kudos for the George Harrison-styled guitar solos.  What's the old saying ?  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery ...      rating: *** stars

- Once you got over the female backing singers, the medley 'Oh Wee Baby, I Love You)' and 'Love Is a Man's Best Friend' proved to be a surprisingly effective love song..  Built on a nifty keyboard and guitar groove (both played by Kooper), even Kooper's fragile voice sounded good on this one.  Very soulful and one of his most readily commercial tunes.   rating: **** stars

- 'Back On My Feet' was a bouncy, upbeat number with some funny lyrics.  Once again Kooper sounded quite good, though the fussy horns and backing singers occasionally threatened to drown him out.  Still, a fun track to hear.   rating: *** stars

- Kooper has always been tuned to up and coming acts and he was one of the first American acts to spot Elton John.  His cover of John's 'Come Down In Time' resulted in one of the prettiest things he's ever done.  Built on a gorgeous keyboard powered melody, the song demonstrated the limitations to Kooper's voice, but because he didn't try to power his way through the song, you really didn't notice it.  Besides, the hyper-speed guitar solo section was just plain cool.  Anyone know what effect he used to get that squealing sound ?   rating: *** stars

- 'Dearest  Darling' found Kooper trying to get down and funky.  Judging by the song's arrangement I'm guessing he'd been listening to a lot of Delaney and Bonnie.  Not half bad, though it won't make you sell those Bo Diddley albums in your collection.  Call me if for some reason you do want to sell them) ...    rating: ** stars

- 'Nightmare # 5' was one strange song.  A pretty acoustic guitar powered ballad that wouldn't have sounded bad on an Elton John album, I originally thought it was an autobiographical number, but the song's unexpectedly lyrical twist trashed that idea.  I'm guessing Kooper had some troubling dreams at this stage in his life.   rating: *** stars

- Yeah, starting with the blatant Christian themed title 'The Warning (Someone's On the Cross Again)' was a bit heavy handed in the lyric department (actually reminding me a bit of an Elton John - Bernie Taupin composition).  While the song had a pretty melody, it bounced all over the place and was largely obscured by the elaborate arrangement and the extensive backing chorus (the track listing shows nine folks on backing vocals).   Not my favorite performance.   rating: ** stars

 

As mentioned above, Columbia released a pair of singles off the LP.  Curiously 'John the Baptist' was also released in the UK and throughout Europe.  The second single Medley: Oh Wee Baby, I Love You' may only have been released as a promo variant.

 

- 1971's 'John the Baptist (Holy John)' b/w 'Back On My Feet' (Columbia catalog number 4- 45412)

- 1971's 'De Neuvo Sobre Mis Pies' b/w 'Juan el Bautista' (CBS catalog number S 7376)

- 1971's 'Medley: Oh Wee Baby, I Love You' b/w 'Love Is a Man's Best Friend' (Columbia catalog number AE7 1034)

 

At least for me, the overall results were surprisingly enjoyable.  Enough for me to continue my exploration of Kooper's solo career.

 

"New York City (You're a Woman)" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) New York City (You're a Woman)   (Al Kooper) - 5:20

2.) John the Baptist (Holy John)  (Al Kooper - Phyllis Major) - 3:34

3.) Can You Hear It Now (500 Miles)  (traditional song arranged by Al Kooper) - 3:27

4.) The Ballad of the Hard Rock Kid   (Al Kooper) - 4:19

5.) Going Quietly Mad   (Al Kooper) - 3:54

 

(side 2)
1.) Medley

    i.) Oh Wee Baby, I Love You   (Richard Parker) - 1:59

    ii ) Love Is a Man's Best Friend   (Irwin Levine - Al Kooper) - 2:24

2.) Back On My Feet   (Al Kooper) - 3:22

3.) Come Down In Time   (Elton John - Bernie Taupin) - 4:39

4.) Dearest Darling   (Eugene McDaniel) - 3:55

5.) Nightmare # 5   (Al Kooper) - 3:00

6.) The Warning (Someone's On the Cross Again)  (Al Kooper - Phyllis Major) - 3:00

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Naked Songs

Company: Columbia

Catalog: KC 31723
Year: 1972

Country/State: Brooklyn, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5539

Price: $15.00

 

For a contractual obligation set (his last release for Columbia), 1972's "Naked Songs" wasn't half bad.  Perhaps because he wasn't feeling any commercial pressure (not like Columbia was going to drop him any quicker), Kooper took the opportunity to record what may have been his most stylistically diverse set.  Yeah, this one bounced all over the musical spectrum - hardcore blues ('As The Years Go Passing By'), country ('Blind Baby'), gospel ('Touch The Hem Of His Garment'), top-40 pop ('Jolie'), and straightforward rock ('Where Were You When I Needed You').  The funny thing was that while the LP didn't hang together very well stylistically, it served as a nice primer displaying Kooper's broad and almost chameleon-like ability to work across musical genres (witness The Atlanta Rhythm Section backed him on 'Jolie' and 'Sam Stone').  The album was also surprising in that Kooper's limited vocal abilities weren't a real issue.  Most of the songs were good enough to overcome his barebones, raspy voice - female backing choruses helping out on songs like 'Be Real'.  Columbia also tapped the album for a single in the form of 'Sam Stone' b/w 'Be Real' (Columbia catalog number 4-45691).

 

Kooper maintains an entertaining website and included some comments on the LP:  "The first solo album not to bear a song title as it's name. This one was recorded in Atlanta and New York City. The Atlanta tracks are Jolie, Sam Stone, and Touch The Hem Of His Garment. The Atlanta Rhythm Section are the backing band for Jolie and Sam Stone. On the NYC tracks, my touring band plays back-up: Frank Ribando & I on guitars, John Paul Fetta on bass, and Eddie Barbato on drums. This album was mostly preoccupied with an affair I was having with avant garde jazz singer Annette Peacock - hence the inclusion of her song, Been & Gone, and my songs Peacock Lady and Unrequited. John Prine's Sam Stone is given an r & b workout. John really liked this version. Albert King's As The Years Go Passing By is played live in the studio with Albert Kooper on lead guitar and tinkly piano. My song Jolie was an inch away from being recorded by Al Green. It was picked for the session by producer Willie Mitchell, only to be bumped by Mr. Green, who brought a new self-penned ditty to that session. Damn !!!! This was my last album for Sony under the existing deal."

 

"Naked Songs" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) (Be Yourself) Be Real   (Al Kooper) - 3:25

2.) As The Years Go Passing By    (Don Malone) - 6:04

3.) Jolie    (Al Kooper) - 3:46

4.) Blind Baby    (Al Kooper) - 3:06

5.) Been And Gone   (Annette Peacock) - 2:35

 

(side 2)
1.) 
Sam Stone   (John Prine) - 4:43

2.) Peacock Lady    (Al Kooper) - 3:23

3.) Touch The Hem Of His Garment    (Sam Cooke) - 4:04

4.) Where Were You When I Needed You   (Al Levin - Irwin Levine) - 3:14

5.) Unrequited   (Al Kooper) - 2:44

 


 


Genre: rock

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Act Like Nothing's Wrong

Company: United Artists

Catalog: UA-LA702-G
Year:
 1976

Country/State: Brooklyn, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: cut out hole top right corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6368

Price: $8.00

 

Well, if nothing else 1976's "Act Like Nothing's Wrong" deserved notice for sporting one of the ugliest covers I've ever seen ...   Co-produced by Al Kooper and John Simon, the album marked Kooper's first studio album in three years.  Kooper's last outing, 1972's "Naked Songs" found him taking a stab at sensitive singer/songwriter  and I remember hoping that wasn't going to be the case this time around.  Luckily, along with a new record label (United Artists), Kooper decided on a different musical direction, or maybe I should say directions since the album found him taking stabs at all sorts of musical genres ...   The set seemed kind of stitched together with Kooper having recorded the nine songs with a variety of line ups, including members of the Atlanta Rhythm Section ('Hollywood Vampire') and Tower of Power ('She Don't Ever Lose Her Groove').  Just purse speculation on my part, but it almost seemed as if Kooper felt the need to record something showing how versatile he was.  The result was a little bit of everything including blues ('Out of Left Field'), country-pop ('In My Own Sweet Way'), funk ('This Diamond Ring'), top-40 pop ('Please Not) One More Time'), soul ('She Don't Ever Lose Her Groove'), and even AOR ('Hollywood Vampire').  Yeah, it may not have been particularly focused but there were a couple of surprisingly impressive performances.

 

- The album opens up with a strange 35 second snippet of studio chatter between Kooper and drummer Robert Ferguson ...  no idea why it was included.   rating: * star

- Certainly better than the Gary Lewis and the Playboys hit version of the song, if nothing else it was mildly interesting to hear Kooper give 'This Diamond Ring' a funky, horn-propelled edge.  Always loved  Little Beaver's lead guitar and Kooper's work on the Clavinet keyboards ...  very Stevie Wonder-esque.   A funky track that actually worked !!!  Easy to see why it was tapped as a single.   rating: ****

- 'She Don't Ever Lose Her Groove' sounded like Kooper was trying to channel Al Green.  Certainly an admirable goal, but Kooper simply didn't have the vocal chops to pull it off and trying to bury him behind female backing singers and support from The Tower of Power horns, just wasn't enough.  Reggie Young turned in a wonderful lead guitar solo.   rating: ** stars

- One of the tracks recorded in Nashville, Kopper's cover of Booker T. Jones and William Bell's slinky, soulful 'I Forgot To Be Your Lover' was another nice performance.  Kooper gained the edge by simply not trying too hard.  Not sure if it was Reggie Young, or Steve Gibson, but one of them turned in a blazing guitar solo.  Yeah, the song would have been better had Dominic Frontiere's heavy orchestration been dropped, but even with it in place, this was one of my favorite tracks.   rating: *** stars

- Curiously 'Missing You' found Kooper diving headlong into Barry Manilow-styled crooner territory.   Simply hideous.   rating: * stars

- Kooper frequently exhibited good taste when it came to cover material and that was certainly the case with Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham's 'Out of Left Field'.  Unfortunately, giving the song a bluesy, church revival arrangement couldn't salvage his raw vocal.  Wendy Waldman provided the backing vocals.   rating: ** stars

- As exemplified by the bouncy, Beach Boy-ish '(Please Not) One More Time'  Kooper has always known how to write a catchy and highly commercial tune.  This one sounded perfect for mid-1970s top-40 radio which makes you wonder ho wit was overlooked.   rating: **** stars

- You know how Paul McCartney's 'Sally G' was labeled a country tune ?  Well 'In My Own Sweet Way' demonstrated the same kind of country-vibe.  To be honest, the best thing here was Steve Gibson's slide guitar work.   rating; ** stars

- 'Turn My Head Towards Home' was a pleasant pop track that would have been better with less orchestration and a slightly stronger Kooper vocal.    rating; ** stars

- Another brief sound clip 'A Visit To the Rainbow Bar & Grill' that left me wondering ...   Almost sounded like a Monty Python skit that somehow got lost.   rating: * star

- The epic 'Hollywood Vampire' was recorded with a big chunk of the Atlanta Rhythm Section and Joe Walsh turning in some George Harrison-styled slide guitar (you had to hear it to believe how accurately Walsh nailed Harrison's stylings).  Maybe it was just my beat ears, but the first part of the song actually had a Harrison-like feel to it, before morphing into something that Meatloaf might have recorded.  rating: *** stars

 

As mentioned above, the album was tapped for a single:

 

 

- 1976's 'This Diamond Ring' b/w 'Hollywood Vampire' (United Artists catalog number UA-XW-879-Y)

 

"Act Like Nothing's Wrong" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Is We On the Downbeat   (Al Kooper) - 0:35

2.) This Diamond Ring   (Al Kooper) - 4:10

2.) She Don't Ever Lose Her Groove   (W. Hale) -3 :45

3.) I Forgot To Be Your Lover   (Booker T. Jones - William Bell) - 2:54

4.) Missing You   (Al Kooper) - 3:40   

5.) Out of Left Field   (Dan Penn - Spooner Oldham) - 4:50

 

(side 2)

1.) (Please Not) One More Time  (Al Kooper) - 3:23

2.) In My Own Sweet Way  (Al Kooper) - 2:40

3.) Turn My Head Towards Home  (Al Kooper - John Simon) - 4:35

4.) A Visit To the Rainbow Bar & Grill  (Al Kooper) - 0:46

5.) Hollywood Vampire  (Al Kooper) - 6:03

 

 

 

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