Thursday, April 7, 2016

1860 Band - 1978 - 1860 Band

1860 Band 
1860 Band

01. Us
02. Keep That Same Old Feeling
03. Von Tempsky
04. Fire & Rain
05. That's The Kind Of Love I've Got For You
06. California Dreaming
07. Porky
08. Adopted

Peter Blake (keyboards)
Rodger Fox (trombone)
Geoff Culverwell (trumpet)
Dave Pearson (bass)
Billy Brown (drums)

The 1860 Band were named after the 1860 Tavern in Wellington, where they were the Saturday afternoon resident act. Formed by Rodger Fox (The Rodger Fox Big Band, Quincy Conserve) the band also included Dave Pearson and other Quincy Conserve members Peter Blake, Billy Brown, Geoff Culverwell and Martin Winch (Espresso Guitar).

Formed from the chain-smoked ashes of Wellington’s Quincy Conserve, Malcolm Hayman’s unofficial training academy for session and touring pros, The 1860 Band killed off its parent group when it proved the more popular of the two with pub patrons.
While Hayman receded into ill-health and obscurity with Captain Custard, The 1860 Band – whose name was imaginatively taken from the Lambton Quay tavern at which it held an extended Saturday afternoon residency – kept drinkers happy with a selection of jazz, funk and disco grooves, culminating in the release of their self-titled 1978 debut and swansong, now a sought-after item by rare groove hunters.

More notable for its stellar line-up than for musical achievements, the ensemble was led by trombonist and conductor Rodger Fox who, shortly after the album release, took several members on to the rather more prestigious Rodger Fox Big Band.

Keyboardist Peter Blake went on to write and perform synth-based television theme tunes that etched themselves into the minds of a generation. The guitar and bass playing brothers Martin and Rob Winch (formerly of Auckland jazz-fusion band Dr Tree and rock band Tamburlaine, respectively) carved out a niche as successful session guys and jingle writers before their untimely deaths in 2011 and 2012.

A La Ping Pong - 1981 - Phase II - Go Go Pongs

A La Ping Pong
Phase II - Go Go Pongs 

01. Go
02. Go Go Pongs
03. Farbenspiel
04. Hamburg - Ankara
05. Hvalpsund Impressionen
06. Klänge Wie Sand Am Meer
07. Strandgut

Drums – Hucky Thoss
Git.Bass, Gliss.], Voice [Stimmen], Synthesizer, Guitar [Ping Pong Git.] – Klaus Bloch
Synthesizer, Performer, gtr [Sequenzer] – Hardy Kukuk

Recorded in Studio Paradiso in Hamburg, Germany, and Hvalpsund, Denmark. Track B3 and B4 recorded live at the beach in Hvalpsund, Sep 1981. The length of track B3 is 3:52222 according to the album liner.

Another artist I discovered via The Crack in the Cosmic Egg is Klaus Bloch. He released two LPs featuring his tape-delay guitar work. This is the 2nd LP - Phase II - Gogopongs.

The first track, Go, starts up with a wonderful drone that builds up to what can best be described as Neu on nitrous. Track 2, Go Go Pongs, is slightly dark synth-wave with less of the guitar effects.

My favorite track is the third, Farbenspiel, a slower meditative piece with guitar, keyboards, strings and the 'Animabass' which doesn't do much other than distract from the rest of the music. Perhaps I like this one so much because it reminds me a lot of a track I made in the 90's, a few years before I finally heard this album.

Since this album isn't included in the on-line version of The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, I have transcribed the info on Bloch below:

"Actually, hiding behind the moniker of 'A La Ping Pong', Klaus Bloch was a talented amateur guitarist who broke on to the independent scene in a small way in the early-80's. Apart from being the project name, the 'A La Ping Pong' phrase was what he called his tape delay system, which was in essence his variation on the Frippertonic system. Klaus Bloch went on to make two very different albums. The first featured a highly inventive music featuring more recognisably 'Frippertonic' style guitar looping and delays, with multi-tracking and electronics, often comparable to Manuel Gottsching's echo and delay guitar work, early Heldon, or Camera Obscura. Then, in contrast, PHASE II took a diversion to Kraftwerk styled electro-pop blending with Frippian touches, and is vastly inferior, despite aid from synthesist Hardy Kukuk."

A La Ping Pong - 1980 - Extrem Musik A La Ping Pong Phase 1

A La Ping Pong 
Extrem Musik A La Ping Pong Phase 1

01. Waidmannsheil?
02. Nordlaut 1
03. Edelweiß für
04. Nordlaut 3
05. Morgenstern-Abendstern
06. Zartbitter

Electric Guitar, Electric Bass, Bells, Gong, Electronics [Ping Pong System], Electronic Drums, Voice – Klaus Bloch
Electric Guitar, Electric Bass, Gong – Matthias Roman
Electric Guitar, Gong – Thomas Wasiliszczak

Recorded at Studio Paradiso Feb. - July 1980. Mixed in September. Nordlaut 1 + 3 recorded live by Spektakel '80.

These rare electronic releases contain atmospheres ala Manuel Goettsching / Günter Schickert coupled with Cluster / Harmonia-like touches.
This is fascinating, one of the more stylistically unique albums I've heard in a while. One part weird ambient electronics ala Kraftwerk, one part keyboard drone of Pink Floyd circa "Wish You Were Here", and one part minimalist electronics ala Manuel Gottsching. It floats along rather gently but isn't background music, it's creative and challenging and off-kilter enough to keep your attention in place.

Al Kooper - 1982 - Championship Wrestling

Al Kooper
Championship Wrestling

01. I Wish You Would (4:07)
02. Two Sides (To Every Situation) (3:31)
03. Wrestle With This (5:30)
04. Lost Control (5:21)
05. I'd Rather Be An Old Man's Sweetheart (Than A Young Man's Fool) (2:57)
06. The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (4:21)
07. Bandstand (4:25)
08. Finder's Keepers (3:33)
09. Snowblind (5:37)

Jeff Baxter Guitar
Valerie Carter Vocals
Vinnie Colaiuta Drums
Jim Ehinger Piano
Steve Forman Percussion
Bruce Gary Drums
Jim Gilstrap Vocals
Ed Greene Drums
Paul Harris Piano
Al Kooper Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
George "Chocolate" Perry Bass
Elliott Randall Guitar
Neil Stubenhaus Bass
Bill Szymczyk Vocals
Greg "Fingers" Taylor Harmonica
Mickey Thomas Vocals
Julia Tillman Waters Vocals
Tower of Power Horn
Joe Vitale Drums
Ricky Washington Vocals
Waters Family Vocals
Maxine Willard Waters Vocals

Championship Wrestling started life as an attempt at another "super session"-type production, with more of a focus on R&B than blues, to have featured Al Kooper and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter as equal partners with dual credit. Midway through what took a third of a year to get down on tape, Baxter withdrew from collaboration, and Championship Wrestling turned into a Kooper album featuring Baxter. It wasn't what Columbia Records expected, and it was dumped on the market -- based on the paucity of reviews, it's doubtful that promo copies or even a press release went out to A- or B-list critics -- and forgotten. Despite the fact that it's sort of "off-brand" (or "off-game") Kooper, Championship Wrestling has more than a few good, even exciting and bracing moments. Kooper later admitted in his autobiography that, weary of reading of the supposed inadequacy of his vocals, he chose to keep his singing role to a minimum here -- two songs and that's it, though both "I Wish You Would" and "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" are excellent, the former even making another link in a chain of classic blues reinterpretations by Kooper going back to his Blues Project days. But even better is the rest of the material, sung radiantly by Valerie Carter and with Mickey Thomas and Ricky Washington not too far behind. The fact is, Kooper knew 20 years before this how to make a good soul record, and with the talent he assembled here -- including the Tower of Power horns -- and Bill Szymczyk producing, it would have been hard for the resulting album not to be worthwhile; considering that even the two instrumentals (arguably the weakest tracks here) are highly diverting, the whole album is a keeper, assuming one can find it. Sony made that a lot easier by reissuing it as a mini-LP-sleeve CD in Japan to coincide with Kooper's concert tour of the country, and Kooper thought enough of it despite some unpleasant memories to include one track on his first Columbia Records anthology.

Al Kooper - 1976 - Act Like Nothing's Wrong

Al Kooper
Act Like Nothing's Wrong

01. Is We on the Downbeat (0:36)
02. This Diamond Ring (4:13)
03. She Didn't Ever Lose Her Grove (3:47)
04. I Forgot to Be Your Lover (2:58)
05. Missing You (3:38)
06. Out of Left Field (5:11)
07. (Please Not) One More Time (3:33)
08. In My Own Sweet Way (2:42)
09. Turn My Head Towards Home (4:35)
10. A Visit to the Rainbow Bar and Grill (0:40)
11. Hollywod Vampire (6:49)

Ron Bogdon Bass
J.R. Cobb Bass
Gary Coleman Bongos, Congas, Percussion
Gene Eichelberger Engineer
Robert Ferguson Drums, Vocals
Dominic Frontiere Horn Arrangements
Steve Gibson Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm)
Hilda Harris Vocals (Background)
Ron Hicklin Singers Vocals (Background)
Mike Leech Bass
Little Beaver Guitar
Larrie Londin Drums
Harry Lookofsky Violin
George "Chocolate" Perry Bass
Marvin Stamm Soloist, Trumpet
Tower of Power Horn
Wendy Waldman Vocals (Background)
Joe Walsh Slide Guitar
Bobby Wood Organ, Piano, Piano (Electric)
Reggie Young Guitar, Vocals
Tubby Zeigler Drums

Kooper's sixth solo release opens daringly enough, with his own funky version of "This Diamond Ring," which he transforms completely from its Drifters-inspired origins. Most of the album is in a mid-'70s soul-funk vein, with Tower of Power turning up elsewhere and Kooper trying (with considerable success) to sound soulful on songs like "She Don't Ever Lose Her Groove" and "I Forgot to Be Your Lover." The playing throughout is excellent, with guitars by Kooper himself (who also plays sitar, Mellotron, organ, and synthesizer) as well as Little Beaver and Reggie Young, with Joe Walsh sitting in on one song, and horn arrangements by Kooper and veteran soundtrack composer Dominic Frontiere. The real centerpiece is the epic-length "Hollywood Vampire," which can't quite sustain its seven-minute length. The funkier numbers work, but some of the rest, like "In My Own Sweet Way," don't come off so well. This is two-thirds of a pretty fair album, and only lacks consistency.

Al Kooper - 1973 - Naked Songs

Al Kooper 
Naked Songs

01. (Be Yourself) Be Real 3:25
02. As The Years Go Passing By 6:04
03. Jolie 3:46
04. Blind Baby 3:06
05. Been And Gone 2:35
06. Sam Stone 4:43
07. Peacock Lady 3:23
08. Touch The Hem Of His Garnment 4:04
09. Where Were You When I Needed You 3:14
10. Unrequited 2:44

Patti Austin Vocals
Barry Bailey Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
Charlie Brown Guitar, Guitar (Electric), Guitar (Rhythm), Slide Guitar
J.R. Cobb Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic)
Dean Daughtry Piano
John Paul Fetta Bass, Bass (Electric)
Michael Gately Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Eileen Gilbert Vocals
Paul Goddard Bass
Richard Greene Fiddle
Junior Hanley Drums
Robert John Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Al Kooper ARP Synthesizer, Arranger, Bass (Electric), Composer, Engineer, Flute, Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Rhythm), Gut String Guitar, Harpsichord, Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Piano (Electric), Primary Artist, Producer, Remixing, Vocals
Maruga Clay Drums, Drums
Robert Nix Drums
Linda November Vocals
Albertine Robinson Vocals
Stuart Scharf Guitar (Acoustic)
Beverly Scott Lettering
Maretha Stewart Vocals
Tasha Thomas Vocals

Naked Songs represents the other end of Al Kooper's early career from I Stand Alone. Where that first album was recorded very gradually at the outset of his solo career, soon after exiting Blood, Sweat & Tears, Naked Songs was a much more cohesive work (cut in New York and Georgia) from the end of his stay at Columbia Records. Ironically, it was a contractually obligated album, but never one to throw away an opportunity, Kooper embraced soul, gospel, blues, pop, and even country music in the course of filling its two sides. Playing his usual array of instruments, including loud, note-bending blues guitar and gospel-tinged organ on "As the Years Go Passing By," he effortlessly switches gears to the smoother pop-soul sound of "Jolie," then straight country with a blues tinge on "Blind Baby." John Prine's grim and uncompromising "Sam Stone" gets an extraordinary performance, but the real surprise is the presence of Sam Cooke's Soul Stirrers-era gospel classic "Touch the Hem of His Garment" -- the latter is one of a pair of Cooke songs (the other is "A Change Is Gonna Come") that one would not expect any white artist to try and cover, much less do well, but Kooper does it justice and then some, and this track alone is worth the price of the album. The album benefits from the fact that Kooper had spent a good chunk of the prior year working with the Atlanta Rhythm Section (which appears here) as well as discovering Lynyrd Skynyrd. Naked Songs may have been intended mostly to get him out of his Columbia contract, but it proved a highlight of his career as well as his last new recording for four years. Naked Songs was reissued in Japan in 2003 in a mini-LP jacket format in state-of-the-art 24-bit digital audio.

Al Kooper - 1972 - A Possible Project Of The Future / Childhoods End

Al Kooper 
A Possible Project Of The Future / Childhoods End

01. A Possible Projection Of The Future 6:31
02. The Man In Me 3:42
03. Fly On 3:15
04. Please Tell Me Why 4:40
05. The Monkey Time 3:19
06. Let Your Love Shine 4:04
07. Swept For You Baby 3:32
08. Bended Knees (Please Don't Leave Me Now) 3:40
09. Love Trap 4:04
10. Childhood's End 3:32

Oma Drake Vocals
John Paul Fetta Bass
Venetta Fields Vocals
Herbie Flowers Bass
Michael Gately Vocals
Paul Goddard Bass
Richard Greene Violin
Bobbye Hall Percussion
Junior Hanley Drums
Paul Humphrey Drums
Robert John Vocals
Clydie King Vocals
Al Kooper Guitar, Keyboards, Primary Artist, Vocals
Claudia Lennear Vocals
Linda Lewis Vocals
Maruga Percussion
Barry Morgan Drums
Alan Parker Guitar
Stuart Scharf Guitar
Bob West Bass
Edna Wright Vocals

As with virtually everything he's ever released, Al Kooper's A Possible Projection of the Future/Childhood's End is superbly produced -- it also sounds a bit different from his other early solo albums, having been recorded mostly in London rather than in New York City. Musically, it's a tiny bit more shaky than one is accustomed to, at least for the first track. Then he slips into a soul groove that is still one of the most extraordinary sounds you'll ever hear from any white artist. Whether he's doing an original song or covering Curtis Mayfield ("The Monkey Time"), Smokey Robinson ("Swept for You Baby"), or Bob Dylan ("The Man in Me"), Kooper is a figure transformed and transcendent through most of this album, delivering an achingly poignant and charismatic performance. The opening number is the only weak moment on the album, a cold, mechanical number that doesn't fit with anything else here, but beyond that everything is essential listening.

Al Kooper - 1971 - New York City (You're A Woman)

Al Kooper
New York City (You're A Woman)

01. New York City (You're A Woman) (Excerpt From "New York City: 6 AM To Midnight" - A Symphony In Progress) 5:51
02. John The Baptist (Holy John) 3:24
03. Can You Hear It Now (500 Miles) 3:28
04. The Ballad Of The Hard Rock Kid 4:20
05. Going Quietly Mad 3:58
06. Medley: Oo Wee Baby, I Love You / Love Is A Man's Best Friend 4:21
07. Back On My Feet 3:20
08. Come Down In Time 4:40
09. Dearest Darling 3:54
10. Nightmare No 3:01
11. The Warning (Someone's On The Cross Again) 3:00

Rita Coolidge Vocals
Venetta Fields Vocals
Herbie Flowers Bass
Michael Gately Vocals
Bobbye Hall Percussion
Paul Humphrey Drums
Robert John Vocals
Carol Kaye Bass
Clydie King Vocals
Sneaky Pete Kleinow Pedal Steel
Al Kooper Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Claudia Lennear Vocals
Robbie Montgomery Vocals
Dorothy Morrison Vocals
Roger Pope Drums
Caleb Quaye Guitar
Jay Seigal Vocals
Louie Shelton Guitar
Jessica Smith Vocals
Julia Tillman Waters Vocals
Donna Weiss Vocals
Bob West Bass
Lorna Willard Vocals
Maxine Willard Waters Vocals
Edna Woods Vocals
Edna Wright Vocals

This is the fourth solo album from rock and roll wunderkind Al Kooper. He congregates two very distinct bands -- one in London and the other in Los Angeles -- to accompany some of his most emotive compositions to date. This is ironic when considering the title track is a paean to the Big Apple. The UK aggregate consists of musicians from Hookfoot, including Herbie Flowers (bass), Caleb Quay (guitar) and Roger Pope (drums). The band were fresh from several collaborations with Elton John, most notably his third studio effort Tumbleweed Connection. The LA sessions included legends such as Carol Kaye (bass), Paul Humphries (drums) and Louis Shelton (guitar). Also to Kooper's credit is his own talents as a multi-instrumentalist -- best exemplified on the title track, which is in essence performed by a trio since Kooper handles all the guitars and keyboards. His nimble piano work recalls the same contributions that he made to Blood Sweat & Tears' rendering of Tim Buckley's "Morning Glory." (Incidentally, an alternate version of the track "New York City (You're a Woman)" -- with significantly less mellotron in the mix -- is available on the best-of compilation Al's Big Deal/Unclaimed Freight.) "John the Baptist (Holy John)" could easily be mistaken for a long-lost composition from the Band -- right down to the Rick Danko-esque vocals. The upbeat number is similar to a pepped-up version of "Katie's Been Gone" or even "The Rumour." Although Kooper credits the Fab Four as his inspiration to "Going Quietly Mad," from the nasal-sounding lead electric guitar to the highly introspective lyrics, it has many of the characteristics of an early Joe Walsh composition such as "Turn to Stone." As he had done on the title track, Koopertastefully incorporates a string section without coming off as pretentious or sonically overbearing. Another song not to be missed is the cover of Elton John's "Come Down in Time". This version blends both backing bands as Herbie Flowers reprises his timeless basslines from the original, while Kooper and the LA all-stars provide the remainder of the instrumental.

Al Kooper - 1970 - Easy Does It

Al Kooper 
Easy Does It

01. Brand New Day 5:09
02. Piano Solo Introduction 2:00
03. I Got A Woman 4:30
04. Country Road 4:23
05. I Bought You The Shoes 1:58
06. Introduction 0:50
07. Easy Does It 5:24
08. Buckskin Boy 4:11
09. Love Theme From "The Landlord" 3:11
10. Sad, Sad Sunshine 5:04
11. Let The Dutchess No 3:17
12. She Gets Me Where I Live 3:34
13. A Rose And A Baby Ruth 3:29
14. Baby, Please Don't Go 12:28
15. God Sheds His Grace On Thee 3:28

Keith Allison Guitar
Joe Beck Guitar
David Bromberg Guitar, Guitar (Steel), Pedal Steel
Kenny Buttrey Drums
Bobby Colomby Congas, Drums, Vocals
Joe Corero, Jr. Drums
Tom Cosgrove Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
Charlie Daniels Bass, Guitar
George Devens Percussion
Pete Drake Guitar (Steel), Pedal Steel
Milt Holland Percussion, Tabla
Peter Ivers Harp
Larry Knechtel Keyboards, Piano
Al Kooper Electronic Effects, Guitar, Guitar (Electric), Keyboards, Ondioline, Organ, Piano, Primary Artist, Producer, Sitar, Vibraphone, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Fred Lipsius Saxophone, Soloist
Rick Marotta Drums, Vocals (Background)
Charlie McCoy Bass, Harmonica
John Miller Bass
Wayne Moss Guitar
Joe Osborn Bass
Earl Palmer Drums
Lyle Ritz Bass
Alexis Rodgers Drums, Guitar
Al Rogers Drums
Stuart Scharf Guitar
Louie Shelton Guitar
Tommy Tedesco Guitar
Freddy Weller Guitar
Neil Wilburn Engineer
Stu Woods Bass, Vocals (Background)

This is the third solo effort from rock & roll wunderkind Al Kooper. Originally issued as a two-LP set, Easy Does It (1970) is a diverse album that reveals the layer upon layer of musicality that has become synonymous with the artist. He draws deeply upon his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and equally engaging arranger. The extended run-time of the double album format likewise allows Kooper to thoroughly exhibit his wide-ranging and virtually mythical adaptability as an artist whose sheer talent defies the boundaries of genre or style. The set kicks off with the youthfully optimistic rocker "Brand New Day." This is the first of two tracks Kooper used in his score for Hal Ashby's directorial cinematic debut, The Landlord, a highly affable counterculture classic starring Beau Bridges. The haunting "The Landlord Love Theme" is also included, and is poignantly dovetailed with one of the disc's profoundly affective epics. "Buckskin Boy" is an uptempo rocker that lyrically offers a brutally honest assessment of the Native American situation, which was quickly becoming a national plague upon the social conscience of the country in the early '70s. The song is replete with Kooper's dynamic chord changes and trademark phrasing. The "morning after" fallout from a particularly potent experience with LSD is credited as the inspiration behind "Sad, Sad Sunshine." The cut features some heavily Eastern-influenced lead sitar work reminiscent of the sounds of Donovan circa Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968) and the burgeoning Canterbury-based progressive folk movement of the late '60s and early '70s. There is a decidedly Yankee contrast on the country-rocker "I Bought You the Shoes (You're Walking Away In)" as well as the cover of John Loudermilk's "A Rose and a Baby Ruth." Other well-placed cover tunes include a classy, soulfully subdued reading of Ray Charles "I Got a Woman'" as well as the spacy and well-jammed-out version of "Baby Please Don't Go." Throughout the 12-plus minute side there are definite recollections of the extended instrumental interaction that defined Kooper's former band, the Blues Project, as well as some of the inspirational improvisation heard on the original Super Session (1968). This performance alone is more than worth the time and effort of seeking out Easy Does It.

Al Kooper - 1969 - You Never Know Where Your Friends Are

Al Kooper 
You Never Know Where Your Friends Are

01. Magic In My Socks 3:55
02. Lucille 3:26
03. Too Busy Thinkin' 'Bout My Baby 3:21
04. First Time Around 2:50
05. Loretta (Union Turnpike Eulogy) 3:49
06. Blues, Part IV 5:05
07. You Never Know Who Your Friends Are 2:51
08. The Great American Marriage / Nothing 4:50
09. Don't Know Why I Love You 3:22
10. Mourning Glory Story 2:17
11. Anna Lee (What Can I Do For You) 3:18
12. I'm Never Gonna Let You Down 4:38

Charles Calello: Vocals
Ralph Casale: Guitar
Lou Christie: Vocals
Ray DeSio: Trombone
Joe Farrell: Saxophone
Eric Gale: Guitar
Michael Gately: Vocals
Bernie Glow: Trumpet
Manny Green: Violin
Paul Griffin Keyboards
Hilda Harris Vocals
Ernie Hayes Keyboards
Gerald Jemmott Bass
Robert John Vocals
Jimmy Knepper Trombone
Al Kooper Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
John Miller Bass
Frank Owens Keyboards
Seldon Powell Saxophone
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie Drums
Chuck Rainey Bass
Albertine Robinson Vocals
Alexis Rodgers Drums, Guitar
Ernie Royal Trumpet
Aaron Schecter Strings
Sol Schlinger Saxophone
Marvin Stamm Trumpet
Tony Studd Trombone
Bill Watrous Trombone
George Young Saxophone
Connie Zimet Vocals

Al Kooper's second solo album is a bit more uneven than its predecessor, I Stand Alone, for understandable reasons -- it would have been nothing less than a miracle for Kooper to have matched the consistency and daring of that album, and he doesn't have quite the same array of memorable tunes here. He's still ranging freely, however, through pop, jazz, R&B, and soul, with some songs that are among the most glorious of his output. "Magic in My Sock" is a good enough opener, making up in its virtuoso horn parts and guitar for what it lacks in melodic invention; "Lucille" is hardly the best ballad that Kooper has ever written, but it forms a good bridge to "Too Busy Thinkin' About My Baby," a Motown cover that's one of the highlights of Kooper's entire output -- from a black singer this track would be a priceless gem, but coming from Kooper it's extraordinary in its every nuance. You get some blues instrumental (principally piano-based) and an abortive but entertaining effort at pop/rock with the title tune, and then Kooper plunges into arty balladry with the hauntingly beautiful "The Great American Marriage/Nothing." He goes back into Motown territory, just as successful as before, on "I Don't Know Why I Love You," and back to moody art-song with Harry Nilsson's "Mourning Glory Story." Kooper returns to the soulful side of rock on "Anna Lee (What Can I Do for You)" and finishes with "I'm Never Gonna Let You Down" -- the latter would be worth the price of the album by itself, a soaring, more lyrical and moody original classic that manages to be unpretentious yet epic in its treatment.

Al Kooper - 1969 - Introduces Shuggie Otis, Kooper Session

Al Kooper - 1969 - Introduces Shuggie Otis, Kooper Session

01. Bury My Body
02. Double Or Nothing
03. One Room Country Shack
04. Lookin' For A Home
05. 12:15 Slow Goonbash Blues
06. Shuggie's Old Time dee-di-lee-di-leet-deet Slide Boogie
07. Shuggie's Shuffle

Hilda Harris Vocals
Melvin Jernigan Wind
Wells Kelly Drums
Mark "Moogy" Klingman Keyboards, Piano
Al Kooper Guitar, Guitar (Baritone), Keyboards, Ondioline, Organ, Piano, Vocals
Shuggie Otis Bass, Composer, Guitar, Guitar (Baritone), Vocals
Albertine Robinson Vocals
Harris Singers Robinson Performer, Vocals
Valerie Simpson Vocals
Stu Woods Bass

In 1969, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist Al Kooper added "talent scout" to his already lengthy résumé on the follow-up to the highly successful Super Session disc, which had been issued the previous year. One major difference between the two, however, is the relatively unknown cast featured on Kooper Session. Both albums again converge with the presentation of top-shelf musicianship and inspired performances. At only 15 years of age, guitarist Shuggie Otis is equally potent a performer as the seasoned keyboardist/guitarist Kooper. The duo is able to manifest an aggregate of material whose success leans as much on Kooper's experience as it does on Otis' sheer inspired youthful energy. The LP is divided between a side of shorter works (aka "songs") and a few extended instrumentals (aka "blues"). Kooper and Otis steer their house band, which includes Stu Woods (bass), Wells Kelly (drums), and Mark Klingman (piano). The tight arrangements aptly reveal Kooper's uncanny ability as a musical conduit. "Bury My Body" -- a variation on "In My Time of Dyin'" -- has been reworked into a gospel rave-up and features Kooper on one of the album's only vocals. Conversely, "Double or Nothing" is a spot-on re-creation of a Booker T. & the MG's track, which not only retains every Memphis-inspired intonation, but also shows off Otis' ability to cop Steve Cropper's guitar solo note for note. The blues instrumental jams are documented live and presented on this album the way that they originally went down at the recording sessions. The descriptively titled "Shuggie's Old Time Dee-Di-Lee-Di-Leet-Deet Slide Boogie" is endowed with a nostalgic piano/bottleneck slide duet and even features the added production value of manufactured surface noise. Both "12:15 Slow Goonbash Blues" and "Shuggie's Shuffle" are certainly no less traditional, allowing both Otis and Kooper the chance to stretch out and interact in real time.

Al Kooper - 1968 - I Stand Alone

Al Kooper 
I Stand Alone

01. Overture
02. I Stand Alone
03. Camille
04. One
05. Coloured Rain
06. Soft Landing On The Moon
07. I Can Love A Woman
08. Blue Moon Of Kentucky
09. Toe Hold
10. Right Now For You
11. Hey, Western Union Man
12. Song And Dance, For The Unborn ..

Elvin Bishop Guitar
The Blossoms Vocals
David Brown Bass
Kenny Buttrey Drums
Charlie Daniels Bass, Guitar
Don Ellis Horn
Jerry Kennedy Guitar
Al Kooper Cover Design, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Charlie McCoy Harmonica
Stephen Miller Keyboards
Wayne Moss Guitar

Al Kooper, by rights, should be regarded as one of the giants of '60s rock, not far behind the likes of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon in importance. In addition to co-writing one classic mid-'60s pop-rock song, "This Diamond Ring" (though it was written as an R&B number), he was a very audible sessionman on some of the most important records of mid-decade, including Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." Kooper also joined and led, and then lost two major groups, the Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears. He played on two classic blues-rock albums in conjunction with his friend Mike Bloomfield. As a producer at Columbia, he signed the British invasion act the Zombies just in time for them to complete the best LP in their entire history; and still later, Kooper discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd and produced their best work. Instead, in terms of public recognition, Kooper has been relegated to second-rank status, somewhere midway between John Mayall and Steve Winwood. Apart from the fact that he's made, and continues to make great music, it's the public's loss that he's not better respected outside the ranks of his fellow musicians.

Kooper was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1944, the son of Sam and Natalie Kooper. As a boy, he enjoyed singing along to the Bessie Smith records that his father played, and they provided his introduction to blues and, by extension, gospel, R&B and soul, all of the sounds that would form the basis for his own music. Equally important, he revealed himself a natural musician -- one day he sat down in front of a piano and started playing one of the then current hits of the early '50s, with no prior training or experience. He learned on his own, and also took up the guitar. Kooper's main interest during the 1950s lay in gospel music. When rock & roll broke, Kooper was drawn to the vocal side of the new music, forming a doo-wop outfit that sang on street corners in his neighborhood in the late '50s. He turned professional in 1959, joining the line-up of the Royal Teens ("Short Shorts," "Believe Me") as a guitarist. By the early '60s, he'd begun writing songs, and among his early efforts was "I Must Be Seeing Things," which was a hit for Gene Pitney.

Kooper's biggest hit as a songwriter came in late 1964, with a song that he co-authored with Bob Brass and Irwin Levine called "This Diamond Ring" -- they'd written it with the Drifters in mind, but the legendary R&B group passed, and it ended up in the hands of Liberty Records producer Snuff Garrett. He made it the first song to be cut by a new group called Gary Lewis & the Playboys. The record entered the charts late in 1964 and spent the early weeks of 1965 in the number one spot. The recording, although not to Kooper's liking compared to what he'd visualized for the Drifters, started a string of almost unbelievably fortuitous events in his life and career. In those days, he was trying to make a big part of his living as a session guitarist, and when a friend, producer Tom Wilson, invited him to observe at a Bob Dylan recording session that spring, he brought his instrument along with him in the hope that something might happen. When they needed a second keyboard player for the organ on "Like a Rolling Stone," Kooper bluffed his way to the spot. Dylan loved the part that Kooper improvised and boosted it in the mix.

Kooper later played as part of the band that backed Dylan when he introduced electric music to the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, and was on the Blonde on Blonde album as well. That same year, Kooper was invited by Wilson to sit in on keyboards for an audition tape by a newly-formed New York blues-rock outfit called the Blues Project, and was asked to join the group. He eventually became one of the lead singers, and three massively important and critically acclaimed albums coincided with his year-long stay. By the time he'd exited the Blues Project, Kooper was ready to start a band with a jazz and R&B sound that he had in mind -- one with a serious horn section -- and the result was Blood, Sweat & Tears. Signed to Columbia Records in late 1967, they cut a debut album that was made up almost entirely of Al Kooper songs, and which set the music pages and their authors afire with enthusiasm -- The Child Is Father to the Man, as their debut record was titled, was one of the most important and daring albums of the '60s, as essential as any long-player ever cut by the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.

Unfortunately, Blood, Sweat & Tears generated more press than sales -- although that debut album did ride the low reaches of the charts for almost a year -- and tensions within the group and pressure from the record company, which wanted a more commercial sound that would sell more records, led to Kooper's exit from the band. Now out of his second successful group in two years, Kooper returned to playing sessions and turned up on records by Jimi Hendrix, the Who, and the Rolling Stones ("You Can't Always Get What You Want"). He also got a job at Columbia Records -- a runner-up prize for having been forced out of Blood, Sweat & Tears (which, by then, was making a fortune for the label with a retooled sound and line-up) -- as a producer. He engineered a concert recording by Simon & Garfunkel that could have been their first official live album. More important was a pair of albums that Kooper cut with his longtime friend, guitarist Michael Bloomfield. Those records, Super Session, cut with Stephen Stills, and The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper were among Columbia's best-selling LPs of the period; they were the kind of albums that, coupled with The Child Is Father to the Man, helped put Columbia Records on the cutting edge of popular music.

Kooper's other major contribution during his tenure at Columbia was signing the Zombies, a British Invasion-era band that hadn't charted a single in two years, for one album. The group seemed to be on their last legs and were, in fact, about to break up, but Columbia got one classic album (Odessey & Oracle) and a monster hit single ("Time of the Season") from the deal. The least prominent of Kooper's projects during this era, ironically enough, was his solo album I Stand Alone, on which he cut new versions of songs he'd written or been associated with over the previous decade. He spread himself too thin in making the record, and the album failed to sell in serious numbers. A follow up record, Kooper Session, was similarly ignored despite the presence of blues guitar prodigy Shuggie Otis, but Kooper remained one of the most successful names in rock music.

During the early '70s, Kooper had his own label, Sounds of the South, set up through MCA -- his big discovery was Lynyrd Skynyrd. He produced their first three albums, whose sales eventually numbered in the millions. Kooper also produced records by the Tubes, B.B. King, Nils Lofgren, and Joe Ely, among many others, during the '70s, and he found time during that decade to write what remains the best book ever written about rock & roll from an insider's perspective, Backstage Passes. Kooper's recording activity slackened off in the 1980s, although he performed with Dylan, Tom Petty, and Joe Walsh, and did some soundtrack work in television and films. During the 1990s, after a more-than-20-year hiatus, he returned to recording his own sound with ReKooperation, an instrumental album released by the MusicMasters label, a company much more closely associated with jazz and classical than rock.
Equally important were a handful of live gigs by principal members of the original Blood, Sweat & Tears, their first shows in 25 years. These performances led to a series of birthday shows at New York's Bottom Line in 1994, which yielded the double-CD concert recording Soul of a Man. Kooper covered most of his own music history with the key members of the original Blood, Sweat & Tears and the definitive Blues Project line-up (who had gotten back together every so often, beginning in the early '70s). Kooper pulled together a unified sound, built around soul, jazz, and gospel influences, despite the varied personnel involved, in his most accomplished solo project ever. Anyone counting the records on which Al Kooper has played a key role -- as songwriter, singer, keyboardman, guitarist, or producer -- would come up with tens of millions of albums and singles sold, and a lot of radio airtime. His career recalls that of Steve Winwood in some respects, though he's never had a solo hit. Even in the '90s, however, Kooper remains a formidable performing talent, and one of the most inspired and intelligent people in rock music.

Listening to I Stand Alone for the first time is a lot like first hearing the Sgt. Pepper album, except that this album challenges and rewards the listener in ways that the Beatles' psychedelic classic never tried to or could have. Al Kooper's first solo album is a dazzling, almost overpoweringly beautiful body of music, and nearly as sly at times in its humor as it is impressive in its musical sensibilities -- specifically, the overture serves its function, and also pokes knowing, savagely piercing fun at the then-current vogue for sound collage-type pieces (most especially the Beatles' "Revolution #9"). Those looking for a reference point can think of I Stand Alone as a very, very distant cousin to the second Blood, Sweat & Tears album, as well as a much closer relative to the original group's Child Is Father to the Man, drawing on a few remnants from the tail end of his tenure with the group and a bunch of new songs and compositions by others that Kooper wanted to record -- one beautiful element of his career, that helped distinguish him from a lot of other talented people of the period, is that unlike a lot of other musicians who were gifted songwriters Kooper never shied away from a good song written by someone else, especially if he could throw himself into it 100 percent or so; and he jumps in headfirst, as a stylist, singer, and musician, all over "I Stand Alone." Stylistically, it's a gloriously bold work, encompassing radiant soul, elements of jazz going back to the swing era, classical, pop, and even rockabilly -- and freely (and masterfully) mixing all of them -- into a phantasmagoric whole. The sources of inspiration (and, in some cases, songs) include Harry Nilsson ("One"), Bill Monroe (and who else, except maybe Elvis in a really inspired moment, was even thinking of covering "Blue Moon of Kentucky" in 1969?), Sam & Dave ("Toe Hold"), Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff ("Hey, Western Union Man"), the Beatles, as well as Kooper himself -- he delivers a lost classic in "Right Now for You" (which sounds like a really good lost cut from the Zombies' Odessey & Oracle album), and a hauntingly beautiful McCartney-esque nod to the Beatles in the "Eleanor Rigby"-like "Song and Dance for the Unborn Frightened Child." And, yet, for all of its diversity of sound and its free ranging repertory, and the unexpected edits and tempo changes, the album all holds together as a coherent body of work, a sort of more ambitious and personalized follow-up to Child Is Father to the Man that still leaves one kind of "whited out" (like the bleached irises of astronaut Dave Bowman's eyes at the end of his voyage through the stargate in 2001: A Space Odyssey) at the end -- not even Sgt. Pepper does that anymore. On the down side, the sound effects that Kooper dubbed in between (and sometimes during) the songs may seem strangely distracting today, but they were a product of their time -- this was the tail end of the psychedelic era, after all, and even Simon & Garfunkel had succumbed to the temptation the previous year, though it's hard to imagine too many people in the business keeping a straight face about such production techniques after hearing the fun this album has at their expense. I Stand Alone was a musical trip worth taking in 1969 -- thanks to a 2003 Japanese reissue (in 24-bit sound, with the original jacket recreated), the ticket is still there for the asking, and the value of the journey is undiminished decades later.

Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper - 1968 - The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper

Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper 
The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper

01. Opening Speech 1:35
02. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) 5:34
03. I Wonder Who 6:02
04. Her Holy Modal Highness 9:00
05. The Weight 4:01
06. Mary Ann 5:19
07. Together 'Til The End Of Time 4:16
08. That's All Right 3:17
09. Green Onions 5:21
10. Opening Speech - Al Kooper 1:29
11. Sonny Boy Williamson 6:04
12. No More Lonely Nights 12:20
13. Dear Mr. Fantasy 8:04
14. Don't Throw Your Love On Me So Strong 10:59
15. Finale - Refugee 1:58

Recorded at Bill Graham's Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, September 26, 27, 28, 1968.

Elvin Bishop Guitar, Vocals
Michael Bloomfield Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Chris Ethridge Bass
Roosevelt Gook Keyboards, Piano
John Kahn Bass
Al Kooper Keyboards, Vocals
Skip Prokop Drums
Carlos Santana Guitar
Rev. Ron Stallings Saxophone

One of the seminal live albums of the late '60s, Live Adventures of Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield was a natural, organic offshoot of the hugely successful Super Session album from 1968, which contained performances by both of these groundbreaking musicians, as well as Stephen Stills. The idea of musical spontaneity both in live performance and in the recording studio had reached a certain apex in 1968, and spontaneous excursions by musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Steve Winwood, and the Southern California musical covenant that eventually became Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, as well as a host of others, were indeed a sign of the times. But it was the union of Bloomfield and Kooper that can truly claim an origination of the phenomenon, and this album takes it to another level entirely.
Utilizing a fine and tight rhythm section of John Kahn and Skip Prokop, the two musicians duel and embrace each other on such cuts as the accurately named "Her Holy Modal Highness" and a great, revamped rock/soul re-working of Paul Simon's "Feelin' Groovy," which is buttressed by a guest studio vocal overdub by the author himself. The album's high point may be Bloomfield's rendering of Albert King's epic "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong," which may indeed also be one of his finest career recordings. Like the Super Session album, history repeated itself, as Bloomfield's chronic insomnia caught up with him by the morning of the second night of the two-night gig, rendering him unavailable. Kooper enlisted the help of Steve Miller and a practically unknown Carlos Santana (himself a Bloomfield devotee) for several tracks, particularly a loose and free version of "Dear Mr. Fantasy," which sort of embodies the whole affair and era. Undoubtedly a necessity from the period, the record has been remastered for CD, and the results are truly glorious, and do this legendary album justice.