Al Kooper – You Never Know Who Your Friends Are (1969)

FrontCover1You Never Know Who Your Friends Are is the second solo album by American multi-instrumentalist Al Kooper, issued in 1969 on Columbia Records.

Kooper wasted no time recording this album, coming just seven months after his debut release. It is a continuation of sorts of his debut; the album contains another eclectic mix of rock, rhythm and blues, jazz, pop, and blues, though without the psychedelics that had somewhat permeated through I Stand Alone. Utilizing a large group of musicians under the direction of Charlie Calello, known collectively as “The Al Kooper Big Band”, Kooper also strayed away from the heavy string orchestrations of his debut.

Relying on more original compositions, with nine of twelve tracks by Kooper, and the remaining three by Harry Nilsson and Motown Records staff songwriters, the album further helped to cement Kooper’s reputation. The album reached #125 on the Billboard 200 on October 25, 1969, and was on the charts for six weeks. (by wikipedia)

AlKooper02Al 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. by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Ralph Casale (guitar)
Eric Gale (guitar)
Paul Griffin (keyboards)
Ernie Hayes (keyboards)
Jerry Jemmott (bass)
Al Kooper (keyboards, guitar, ondioline, vocals)
John Miller (bass)
Frank Owens (keyboards)
“Pretty” Purdie (drums)
Chuck Rainey (bass)
Al Rodgers (drums)
Stu Scharf (guitar)
Walter Sears (synthesizer)
+
trumpet:
Bernie Glow – Ernie Royal – Marvin Stamm

trombone:
Ray Desio – Jimmy Knepper – Bill Watrous – Tony Studd

saxophone:
George Young – Sol Schlinger – Seldon Powell – Joe Farrell

background vocals:
Hilda Harris – Connie Zimet – Albertine Harris – Lois Winter – Mike Gately – Lou Christie – Robert John – Charlie Calello

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Tracklist:
01. Magic In My Socks (Kooper) 3,57
02. Lucille )Kooper) 3.29
03. Too Busy Thinkin’ ’bout My Baby (Whitfield/Bradford) 3.24
04. First Time Around (Kooper) 2.52
05. Loretta (Union Turnpike Eulogy) (Kooper) 3.51
06. Blues, Part IV (Blues) 5.08
07. You Never Know Who Your Friends Are (Kooper) 2.56
08. The Great American Marriage / Nothing (Kooper) 4.51
09. I Don’t Know Why I Love You (Hardaway/Hunter/Riser/Wonder) 3.25
10. Mourning Glory Story (Nilsson) 2.19
11. Anna Lee (What Can I Do for You) (Kooper) 3.20
12. I’m Never Gonna Let You Down (Kooper) 4.38

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