Archive for the ‘Al Kooper’ Category

Al Kooper

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Listen: The Monkey Time / Al Kooper
The Monkey Time / Al Kooper

It’s safe to say Al Kooper is a soul fan from way back. Look into his early history of obscure singles. They’re as vital as the well known triumphs, most of which wouldn’t exist without him.

For instance, had he not helped Bob Dylan over his difficulty with ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, well who knows what might have happened, or more likely not.

The effortless version goes to prove the occasional unsung plaudits don’t come his way often enough. I can’t imagine it’s easy, or more accurately, possible to fake this one.

For the record, it’s basically Blue Mink’s rhythm section here, and both Claudia Lennear and Linda Lewis doing those female bv’s.

Johnny Winter And

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Listen: Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Mono) / Johnny Winter And JohnnyWinterAndFlash.mp3

Please remember, this came out at a time when blistering acid blues guitar solos were still pretty new and defiant. Mix that up with a skinny, skinny, skinny albino, silky straight white hair, a bloodless complexion, blue velvet jacket and voila: recipe.

Having made a few tame, more traditional blues recordings for labels like Imperial, Johnny Winter signed to Columbia during their great late 60′s renaissance. A time period that saw Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Chambers Brothers, Moby Grape, Al Kooper and Pacific Gas & Electric added to it’s roster.

The first two Columbia albums were pretty much in that trad blues vein, a touch more electrified. The touring to support them included making the rounds of Fillmore type venues in the US.

By album three, Johnny Winter, the artist, became Johnny Winter And. By infusing more Little Richard style wildness and covering a handful of RnR standards, they band and idea blew up.

They were so powerful live, that for a short time, I’m not sure anyone could top them at their game. Despite being consistently out of tune on stage (a result of the mania specific to this live show), no one cared. It was a tornado of sound and action. You couldn’t take your eyes off them nor sit still.

JOHNNY WINTER AND LIVE became the time tested true documentation of that period. Definitely one of the most exciting live recordings in my collection. The mono 7″ excerpt of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ edits out the second solo, a real shame. Definitely check the full length for that. Meanwhile, a single, like the live show from which it came, has rarely been hotter.

Nils Lofgren

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

NilsCryUSPS, Nils Lofgren, A&M, Al Kooper

NilsCryUK, Nils Lofgren, A&M, Al Kooper

Listen: Cry Tough / Nils Lofgren NilsCry.mp3

Funny coincidence. A repeating lyric in ‘Cry Tough’ is “Doctor Feelgood”. I’m assuming he means something other than the UK band who at the very same time as this was recorded and released, were planting the seeds that would sprout punk and make tasty rock music unhip almost overnight. Somehow though, Nils Lofgren sat pretty nicely beside all that, and most friends I had, like myself, loved the entire CRY TOUGH album. Nils, as with Steve Winwood and JJ Cale, was certainly a port in the AOR storm during those few years, when anything to do with punk was kept off the airwaves.

Produced by Al Kooper meant the album was in solid shape. It was upon release of the followup, I CAME TO DANCE, that he came to town. Voice and playing were superb, lyrically a little too cliched, but his great rag/tag outfit and Keith Richard-like stage presence more than made up for it.

Sonny & Cher

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

It's The Little Things / Sonny & Cher

Listen: It's The Little Things / Sonny & Cher SonnyCherLittle.mp3

You Better Sit Down Kids / Cher

Listen: You Better Sit Down Kids / Cher CherKids.mp3

Laugh At Me / Sonny

Listen: Laugh At Me / Sonny SonnyLaugh.mp3

Sonny jukebox tab

It’s hard to top ‘I Got You Babe’? Fuck that, ‘It’s The Little Things’ kills it. Splat. I’ve been listening over and over tonight, can’t think of a thing to say – I just keep repeating it. When Cher’s voice cracks at exactly 2:06 on “you’re STILL my guy”, I lose it. They were so in love then – it couldn’t be hidden. Incredible.

Running down a parallel track starting around ’65 was the train known as Cher’s solo career. ‘You Better Sit Down Kids’ was pretty heavy stuff, she even takes on the male role lyrically which always seemed a little off. Despite the song’s message, I still think they were in love though.

One night I was walking past The Bottom Line, the legendary NY club now gone. Out came Sonny with Chastity. Damn if I can remember who was playing that evening. I make a habit of carrying blank jukebox tabs and these are just the moments when I’m happy I do. Sonny was so gracious, and like everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, I have ever asked to fill one out he said “Nobody has ever asked me to do this before”. Neither of us could remember the B side. Chastity and Corinne were of no help.

The real genius behind Sonny & Cher, his tenure on the LA record making circuit with Phil Spector, Leon Russell, Al Kooper etc is now very obvious. He wore it humbly on his sleeve. A real unsung talent.


Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Omaha / Moby Grape

Omaha / Moby Grape

Listen: Omaha / Moby Grape MobyGrapeOmaha.mp3

When recalling the handful of US 60′s bands I appreciated (at the time that is, I was still pretty buzzed on the British Invasion, it was us-against-them mentality), I always forget Moby Grape. They were a bit wooly looking, yet had a nice splash of psychedelia thrown in, especially on ‘Omaha’ (from their debut LP, MOBY GRAPE), thereby completely tolerable. Initially I probably liked the name and idea of Moby Grape better than Moby Grape themselves. Surprisingly, many UK bands tipped them, with some, like The Move, actually covering their songs live. When the second album, WOW, came out, I felt the compelling urge to buy it. Like Pink Floyd’s UMMAGUMMA, it was a double record, but priced as a single – that helped. The second disc was a jam, and featured Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield, both well respected….jammers. Let’s be honest, I don’t think anyone got through it more than once, although we all claimed to have. The first disc however had some proper songs in there. It was all very Dennis Hopper. The psychedelic angle had vanished but their dark, cold sound increased nicely – and the vocals were a big attraction. In the end, a top rock group.