Al Kooper – Rare + Well Done (Greatest And Most Obscure Recordings (1964-2001) (2001)

FrontCover1.jpgEveryone knows Al Kooper in one form or another. If the name isn’t instantly recognizable, then Kooper’s long list of musical contributions and achievements should very well be. After all, this is the man who not only played the legendary and unforgettable organ part on Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”, but Kooper also did everything from having a hand in penning the classic tune “This Diamond Ring” to founding such incomparable Sixties groups such as Blues Project and Blood, Sweat and Tears. The man even started out as a member of The Royal Teens who charted with “Short Shorts”. He hung out with Hendrix, “discovered” Lynyrd Skynyrd, and produced a ton of classic albums. And he’s still going strong.

So much so, in fact, that Kooper has recently released Rare & Well Done, a two disc collection that fully represent the album’s title. All the tracks were 24-bit remastered with Kooper’s own supervision. Disc one is a 19-track collection of hard to find and previously unreleased material from the Kooper vaults, while disc two features plenty of the artist’s best known work, in solo and various band formats. For longtime fans, this collection is a welcome addition to their Kooper collection. For anyone else who’s even mildly curious about Kooper’s legacy, this album works as a nice springboard from which to begin exploring the man’s vast catalogue. As it usually is with such releases, not everything here works and not every “rare” found here needed inclusion, but overall Rare & Well Done is an indispensable look back at one of rock music’s most prolific artists.

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The “Rare” disc opens with a new demo, “I Can’t Quit Her 2001”. It’s not the best song on the disc that the collection could have started with. In fact, it’s a bit schmaltzy and sounds like something that you might hear Paul Schaffer’s band doing on Letterman. It’s certainly not the best version of this classic, as the live version included on the “Well Done” disc proves. However, things fall into place and start to genuinely rock with track two, Kooper’s 1964 demo of “Somethin’ Goin’ On”. Amazingly soulful, gospel tinged and incredibly deep, “Somethin’ Goin’ On” seems light years away from everything else that was coming out in ’64 — especially Beatlemania. Kooper’s voice instantly moves one emotionally as much as those fantastic piano, organ, and guitar parts. Stunning.

But then again, the disc manages to dip down for a moment as “Autumn Song” sounds like a mid-’80s fusion/muzak piece. It would have been better had the contents of this disc been arranged chronologically as the time warps back and forth through the years certainly mess up the grooves more than once. Kooper’s own phrasing of some of the words here, like “winter” also seem a bit silly as if he were just goofing off on the track. “I Can’t Stand The Rain” which follows is a bit better, though the horn section sounds like nothing more than synth brass. These are the kinds of rarities that may have been better off left on the shelves.

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Still, one can’t argue with the slow cooking “Baby Please Don’t Go” offered here in a live version from 1971 and getting and eight-and-a-half minute workout. Kooper’s amazing piano work on the track just simply burns, as does his vocal prowess once again. Giving Big Joe Williams a run for his money, “Baby Please Don’t Go” encapsulates not only the blues here, but also takes on funk and classical vestiges that must simply be heard to be appreciated. The band’s solo spots are equally remarkable, with the other-worldy synth break being especially dazzling.

But then the record shifts once more and we’re back into smoove rock territory with “I Let Love Slip Through My Fingers”, a number on which Kooper seems to be doing his best Lou Rawls impression that turns out to be not so good in the end. The sax and guitar parts are overwrought and cheese up the track way too much. “The Earthquake of Your Love” restores the good groove with an undeniably Seventies bounce and charm. This time, Kooper vocally sounds almost like Steve Miller. And that’s not too strange, considering Miller himself went on to create such plastic, yet likable boogie like “Abracadabra” a bit later on.

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Getting back to the downright essential tracks on the disc, of important note is the inclusion of Al’s very first single from 1965, “New York’s My Home (Razz-A-Ma-Tazz)”. Again, this long lost Sixties chestnut doesn’t sound much like anything else going on at the time with its pretty flute and string arrangement outdoing the Fab Four (again), and that indelible swinging jazz outbreak at the middle of the tune being especially captivating. If Kooper wasn’t influencing both Brian Wilson and Lennon and McCartney at this time, then I’d damn sure be surprised as Al had created his own “mini-epic” right here . . . in 1965 . . . in two-and-a-half minutes.

The “English Hall” cover of XTC’s “Making Plans for Nigel” is also excellent. Dare I say that it’s even better than XTC’s. Sure. I’m not so taken with that group that I can’t see that their career has been spotty through the decades. But even better than that is Kooper’s blistering version of Dylan’s “Went To See The Gypsy”, an outtake from Bob’s New Morning LP that rock fiercer than Dylan’s own take. Of course, that version was so subdued (yet equally great) that it wouldn’t be difficult to rock harder. But here, Kooper’s band injects stunning guitar parts that do sound distinctively Sixties, but all the better.

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Also of interest is Kooper’s instrumental rehearsal version of “Hey Jude” from 1969 with orchestra. Kooper jazzes the Beatles tune up with swinging horns and lickety-split drumming. It sounds a bit like a Vegas spectacular, but it’s by no means horrible. Hearing someone with Kooper’s talent reconfigure such a song in this format is impressive. Although it is hard not to laugh at “The Big Chase”, a piece of incidental music that was left out of an episode of TV’s Crime Story. It sounds like Jan Hammer and Harold Faltermeyer got together and created the most hellish cop music they could think of. Lots of fun (seriously).

Turning to the “Well Done” disc of the collection now, the old fans should finally start feeling like they’re on familiar territory as nothing on the CD here hasn’t been released before. Things start with a live 1994 take of “I Can’t Keep from Cryin’ Sometimes” recorded with the Blues Project. Once again, Al is in his element when he has a band behind him that complements his own talent. The organ work, the guitar licks are both hot, and Kooper puts in some of his most soulful vocalizing. Tasty.

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Set the Way Back Machine for 1968 then, because it’s time to hear Blood, Sweat and Tears’ “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know”. Again, there’s a stunning amount of soulfulness ripping through this track with the undeniable organ and vocal parts (especially those of the backup singers). A slow burner if there ever was one, it’s followed up with a 1975 version of “This Diamond Ring” complete with funky keyboards a-la Billy Preston’s “Outa Space”. Personally, I dig this version a lot more than the original by Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

There’s still no getting over the Kooper/Bloomfield (as in Mike) number “Albert’s Shuffle” from ’68. Here it is once again in all of its blistering glory. The blues as pounded out by two of the best. All you have to do is hear that organ and guitar and those horns and that’s all it takes. Next thing you know, you’re somewhere else. All great music should move you. Here’s a number that does it every time. And the movement continues with the classic “Bury My Body” recorded with Shuggie Otis in 1969 and “Season of the Witch” with Stephen Stills in 1968. It’s truly a joy to hear Kooper’s phenomenal work from the Sixties here all laid out. The man was clearly an inspired and enviable musician at that point in his career.

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“New York City (You’re A Woman)” is also great. Here, Kooper’s organ sounds just like Booker T.’s good old Hammond B-3. And who could forget such brazen opening lines like “New York City you’re a woman / Cold hearted bitch ought to be your name / Oh you ain’t never loved nobody / Yet I’m drawn to you like a moth to flame/ . . . Yeah”? This piece of classic funkiness is then followed with a damned great live version of “I Can’t Quit Her” from 1994 that shows just how great the song really is (you wouldn’t know it from that limp version that opened the “Rare” disc as stated earlier).

The classics just keep on coming from there, from the fantastic “I Stand Alone” to another slow burner, this time in the form of “I Got a Woman”. Also included is the closing “Love Theme from The Landlord”, which is the only Al Kooper disc not currently on CD. All in all, “Well Done” lives up to its name and then some

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It’s just too bad that the “Rare” portion of this collection didn’t include an equal portion of indispensable tracks. The nuggets from the Sixties and Seventies are cool and wonderful, but with only a couple of exceptions, like “Making Plans for Nigel”, and “The Big Chase”, the rest of the rarities kind of bring about a cringe-inducing element, proving once and for all that there was a very good reason a lot of the tracks here were previously unissued.

Yet the “Well Done” disc is impeccable, making this collection a must-have. It’s great to have all these tracks in once place. Al Kooper continues to play a highly influential part in the music industry. His well-documented history up this point has been preserved beautifully and put on display for all to hear in this collection. Kooper has certainly been deserving of a release like this for a long time, and even if the whole thing isn’t flawless, it damn sure rocks 95% of the time. Thanks for the memories, Al. (Jason Thompson)

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Tracklist:

CD 1 (Rare):
01. I Can’t Quit Her (New Studio Version) (Kooper)Levine) 4.25
02. Somethin’ Goin’ On (Demo) (Kooper) 3.04
03. Autumn Song (Kooper) 2.50
04. I Can’t Stand The Rain (Bryant/Miller/Peebles) 4.29
05. Baby Please Don’t Go (live) (Williams) 8.24
06. I Let Love Slip Through My Fingers (Kooper) 5.01
07. The Earthquake Of Your Love (Demo) (Kooper) 3.19
08. Bulgarya (outtake) (Kooper) 2.32
09. Nuthin’ I Wouldn’t Do (For A Woman Like You) (Kooper) 3.29
10. New York’s My Home (Razz-A-Ma-Tazz) Aka The Street Song (Kooper) 2.32
11. Making Plans For Nigel (Moulding) 4.07
12. I Believe To My Soul (outtake) (Charles) 4.28
13. Went To See The Gypsy (Dylan) 3.30
14. Rachmaninoff’s Birthday (Kooper) 4.08
15. Hey Jude (rehearsal tape) (Lennon/McCartney) 5.11
16. Living In My Own Religion (demo) (Kooper) 4.51
17. The Big Chase (Kooper/Calello) 3.24
18. They Just Don’t Make Them Like That Anymore (Kooper) 2.25
19. A Drive Through The Old Neighborhood (Kooper) 4.37

CD 2 (Well Done):
01. I Can’t Keep From Cryin’ Sometimes (live) (Kooper) 4.01
02. I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know (Kooper) 5.56
03. This Diamond Ring (Kooper/Levine/Brass) 4.08
04. Albert’s Shuffle (Bloomfield/Kooper) 6.53
05. Bury My Body (Kooper) 8.56
06. Season Of The Witch (Leitch) 11.05
07. New York City (You’re A Woman) (Kooper) 4.45
08. I Can’t Quit Her (live) (Kooper/Levine) 3.46
09. I Stand Alone (Kooper) 3.42
10. Flute Thing (Kooper) 6.02
11. You Never Know Who Your Friends Are (Kooper) 2.53
12. I Got A Woman (Charles) 6.29
13. Brand New Day (Kooper) 5.09
14. Love Theme (Jolie) (Kooper) 3.41

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Various Artists – That´s Underground – The Rock Machine Turns You On (1968)

FrontCover1.jpgDuring the Sixties, “underground music” became very popuilar all over the world.

So many record companies decided to release sampler to push this exciting sound.

That’s Underground, The Rock Machine Turns You On (original 1968 CBS pressing), is one of the most treasured records not only for featuring some big names of the era but because of its spectacular psychedelic splatter multicoloured vinyl. Made before they became fashionable and they hardly get more coloured than this.

The West German album has on the rear sleeve the familiar words “The Rock Machine Turns You On” (not the same compilation as the UK, Dutch and French albums The Rock Machine Turns You On above). The West German records are on distinctive “psychedelic” multicoloured vinyl, but both records shown have orange CBS labels. The rear sleeve shows pictures of other contemporary CBS releases.

This album was for many people a very important album:

“This must have been the first colored vinyl I saw in my life. Not only the splashing colors blew my mind, but also the music heard on this album must have blown the brains out of the 16 year old boy I was then. Still love each and every track on this album.” (Leonard)

“Blown my mind just looking at it. It sure is one hell of a production, the vinyl and song selection all look great. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen or heard of this before but then looked it up and found it was only issued in Germany, Italy and South Africa. Surely, it deserved a much wider release and I can see why it would have been a totally mind-bending experience to a youngster in the 60’s. 50 years on and it’s freaking me out right now.” (Lee Wrecker)

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Alternate front + back cover from South Africa

This LP was  reissued of released in Germany by Repertoire in 2005 under licence from Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Germany) GmbH. It dates the original release as 1970 (!) …

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I´m sure, that this compilation was for many, many people a very important part of their life … you can call it … a soundrack of their youth …

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Tracklist:
01. The Electric Flag: Killing Floor (Burnett) 4.14
02. Spirit: Mechanical World (Andes/Ferguson) 5.19
03. The Chambers Brothers: Time Has Come Today (J. Chambers/W. Chambers) 4.53
04. Leonard Cohen: Suzanne (Cohen) 3.49
05. Moby Grape: Can’t Be So Bad (Miller)
06. Big Brother And The Holding Company: Piece Of My Heart (Ragovoy/Berns) 4.15
07. The United States Of America: Hard Coming Love (Moskowitz/Byrd) 4.44
08. Blood, Sweat And Tears: My Days Are Numbered (Kooper) 3.19
09. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (Dylan) 3.28
10. Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Steve Stills: You Don’t Love Me (Cobb) 4.08

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Many fantastic colors … 

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I got this sampler from Mr. Sleeve … thank you very much !!!

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Al Kooper & Shuggie Otis – Kooper Session (1969)

LPFrontCover1.jpgKooper Session is the second-in-line of the Super Session albums featuring singer-songwriter Al Kooper. Joining Kooper in the guitar slot is 15-year-old phenomenon Shuggie Otis, son of legendary rhythm and blues pioneer Johnny Otis.

Divided into two halves, “The Songs” (a quartet of arranged gospel and rhythm and blues tracks) and “The Blues” (a trio of improvised blues tracks), the album, like Super Session before it, was quickly recorded and featured short, succinct tracks (“Double or Nothing”, “One Room Country Shack”) and fluid, drawn out jams highlighting the talents of the artists (“12:15 Slow Goonbash Blues”, “Bury My Body”). (by wikipedia)

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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”).

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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. (by Lindsay Planer)

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Personnel:
Wells Kelly (drums)
Mark Klingman (piano)
Al Kooper (keyboards, vocals)
Shuggie Otis (guitar)
Stu Woods (bass)
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The Hilda Harris-Albertine Robinson Singers (background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Bury My Body (Kooper) 8.56
02. Double Or Nothing (Jones/Jackson, Jr./Cropper/Dunn) 2.27
03. One Room Country Shack (Walton) 3.36
04. Lookin’ For A Home (Forehand) 5.48
05. 12:15 Slow Goonbash Blues (Kooper/Otis) 9.29
06. Shuggie’s Old-Time (dee-di-lee-di-leet-deet) Slide Boogie (Kooper/Otis) 4.04
07. Shuggie’s Shuffle (Kooper/Otis) 6.25

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Al Kooper – Live At Idiot’s Delight, New York (1996)

FrontCover1.jpgAl Kooper (born Alan Peter Kuperschmidt, February 5, 1944) is an American songwriter, record producer and musician, known for organizing Blood, Sweat & Tears (although he did not stay with the group long enough to share its popularity), providing studio support for Bob Dylan when he went electric in 1965, and bringing together guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills to record the Super Session album. In the 1970’s he was a successful manager and producer, notably recording Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first three albums. He’s also had a successful solo career, written music for film soundtracks, and has lectured in musical composition. He continues to perform live. (by wikipedia)

And here´s a very rare radio show from the Nineties … Al Kooper accoustic, no organ (!), but a handful of fine blues tunes together withe his old mate Danny Kalb and Jimmy Vivino.

Recorded live at Idiot’s Delight, WNEW-FM, New York; March 3, 1996
Fairly to very good FM broadcast

Thanks to the original uploader; and to bluebomber for keeping the show alive at Dime

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Personnel:
Danny Kalb (guitar, harmonica)
Al Kooper (mandolin, vocals)
Jimmy Vivino (steel guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. I Don’t Know When, But I Know I’ll Be There Soon (Kooper) 2.33
02. Talk 0,32
03. So Sweet (Traditional) 4.30
04. God Don’t Never Change (Johnson) 3.38
05. Am I Wrong (Moore) 3.55
06. I Can’t Be Satisfied (Morganfield) 4.23
07. Talk 0.24
08. The Mississippi Kid (Kooper/Burns /v.Zant) 3.24
09. Talk 0.27
10. How Am I Ever Gonna Get Over You (Kooper) 4.48

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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)
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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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Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper & Steve Stills – Super Sessions (1968)

FrontCover1Super Session is an album conceived by Al Kooper and featuring the work of guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills, released on Columbia Records in 1968, CS 9701. Bloomfield and Stills do not play together on the album, with tracks including Bloomfield on side one, and those including Stills on side two. It peaked at #12 on the Billboard 200, and has been certified a gold record by the RIAA.

Kooper and Bloomfield had previously worked together on the sessions for the ground-breaking classic Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan, as well as playing in support of his controversial appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in July 1965. Kooper had recently left Blood, Sweat & Tears after recording their debut album with them, and was now working as an A&R man for Columbia. Bloomfield was about to leave Electric Flag, and at relative loose ends. Kooper telephoned Bloomfield to see if he was free to come down to the studio and jam; Bloomfield agreed, leaving Kooper to handle the arrangements.

Kooper booked two days of studio time in May 1968, and recruited keyboardist Barry Goldberg and bassist Harvey Brooks, both members of the Electric Flag, along with well-known session drummer “Fast” Eddie Hoh. On the first day, the quintet recorded a group of mostly blues-based instrumental tracks, including a modal excursion “His Holy Modal Majesty”, a tribute to the late John Coltrane that was also reminiscent of “East-West” from the second Butterfield Blues Band album. On the second day, with the tapes ready to roll, Bloomfield did not show up.

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Needing to have something to show for the second day of sessions, to sit in for Bloomfield, Kooper hastily called upon Stephen Stills, also in the process of leaving his band Buffalo Springfield. Regrouping behind Stills, Kooper’s session men cut mostly vocal tracks, including “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” from Highway 61 and a lengthy and atmospheric take of “Season of the Witch” by Donovan.

Some overdubbed horns were later added while the album was being mixed, and sales worth a gold record award were garnered from an album which cost just $13,000 to make. The success of this record opened the door for the “supergroup” concept of the late 1960s and 1970s — Blind Faith, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the like. Kooper forgave Bloomfield, and the two of them made several concert appearances after the album was released. The results of one of those became the album The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper.

On April 8, 2003, Legacy Records reissued the album for compact disc with four bonus tracks, including both an outtake and a live track with Bloomfield, and two with the horn overdubs mixed out. (by wikipedia)

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As the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) had done a year earlier, Super Session (1968) initially ushered in several new phases in rock & roll’s concurrent transformation. In the space of months, the soundscape of rock shifted radically from short, danceable pop songs to comparatively longer works with more attention to technical and musical subtleties. Enter the unlikely all-star triumvirate of Al Kooper (piano/organ/ondioline/vocals/guitars), Mike Bloomfield (guitar), and Stephen Stills (guitar) — all of whom were concurrently “on hiatus” from their most recent engagements. Kooper had just split after masterminding the groundbreaking Child Is Father to the Man (1968) version of Blood, Sweat & Tears. Bloomfield was fresh from a stint with the likewise brass-driven Electric Flag, while Stills was late of Buffalo Springfield and still a few weeks away from a full-time commitment to David Crosby and Graham Nash. Although the trio never actually performed together, the long-player was notable for idiosyncratically featuring one side led by the team of Kooper/Bloomfield and the other by Kooper/Stills. The band is fleshed out with the powerful rhythm section of Harvey Brooks (bass) and Eddie Hoh (drums) as well as Barry Goldberg (electric piano) on “Albert’s Shuffle” and “Stop.”

KooperStillsThe Chicago blues contingency of Bloomfield, Brooks, and Goldberg provide a perfect outlet for the three Kooper/Bloomfield originals — the first of which commences the project with the languid and groovy “Albert’s Shuffle.” The guitarist’s thin tone cascades with empathetic fluidity over the propelling rhythms. Kooper’s frisky organ solo alternately bops and scats along as he nudges the melody forward. The same can be said of the interpretation of “Stop,” which had originally been a minor R&B hit for Howard Tate. Curtis Mayfield’s “Man’s Temptation” is given a soulful reading that might have worked equally well as a Blood, Sweat & Tears cover. At over nine minutes, “His Holy Modal Majesty” is a fun trippy waltz and includes one of the most extended jams on the Kooper/Bloomfield side. The track also features the hurdy-gurdy and Eastern-influenced sound of Kooper’s electric ondioline, which has a slightly atonal and reedy timbre much like that of John Coltrane’s tenor sax. Because of some health issues, Bloomfield was unable to complete the recording sessions and Kooper contacted Stills. Immediately his decidedly West Coast sound — which alternated from a chiming Rickenbacker intonation to a faux pedal steel — can be heard on the upbeat version of Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.” One of the album’s highlights is the scintillating cover of “Season of the Witch.” There is an undeniable synergy between Kooper and Stills, whose energies seems to aurally drive the other into providing some inspired interaction. Updating the blues standard “You Don’t Love Me” allows Stills to sport some heavily distorted licks, which come off sounding like Jimi Hendrix. This is one of those albums that seems to get better with age and that gets the full reissue treatment every time a new audio format comes out. This is a super session indeed. (by Lindsay Planer)

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Personnel:
Mike Bloomfield (guitar on 01. – 05., 10., 12. + 13.)
Harvey Brooks (bass)
Eddie Hoh (drums, percussion)
Al Kooper (vocals, keyboards, guitar)
Stephen Stills (guitar on 06. – 09. + 11.)
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Barry Goldberg (piano on 01. + 02.)
unknown horn section (arranged by Al Kooper and Joe Scott)

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Tracklist:
01. Albert’s Shuffle (Kooper/Bloomfield) 6.54
02. Stop (Ragovoy/Shuman) 4.23
03. Man’s Temptation (Mayfield) 3.24
04. His Holy Modal Majesty (Kooper/Bloomfield) 9.16
05. Really (Kooper/Bloomfield) 5.30
06. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (Dylan) 3.30
07. Season Of The Witch (Leitch) 11.07
08. You Don’t Love Me (Cobbs) 4.11
09. Harvey’s Tune (Brooks) 2.07
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10. Albert’s Shuffle (remix without horns) (Kooper/Bloomfield) 6.58
11. Season Of The Witch (remix without horns) (Leitch) 11.07
12. Blues For Nothing (outtake) (Kooper) 4.15
13. Fat Grey Cloud (in concert at the Fillmore West) (Kooper/Bloomfield) 4.38

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Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield

Al Kooper – Easy Doest It (1970)

AlKooperEasyFCThis 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. (by Lindsay Planer)

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Personnel:
Al Kooper (keyboards, guitar, ondioline, sitar, vibraphone, vocals)
Rick Marotta (drums)
Stu Woods (bass, background vocals)
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Keith Allison (guitar on 09.)
Joe Beck (guitar on 08.)
The Blossoms (background vocals on 10.)
David Bromberg (pedal steel-guitar on 04., 07. + 12.)
Ken Buttrey (drums on 10.)
Bobby Colomby (percussion on 13.)
Joe Corero, Jr. – drums on 09.)
Tom Crosgrove (guitar on 07. + 12.)
Charlie Daniels (guitar on 10.)
George Devens (percussion on 08.)
Pete Drake (pedal steel-guitar on 10.)
Milt Holland (tabla on 09.)
Peter Ivers (harmonica on 04.)
Larry Knechtel (piano on 01. + 14.)
Fred Lipisus (saxophone on 03.)
Jackson Marlie (vocals)
Charlie McCoy (bass on 10.)
John Miller (bass on 08.)
Wayne Moss (guitar on 10.)
Joe Osborn (bass on 09.)
Earl Palmer (drums on 11. + 14.)
Lyle Ritz (bass on 11. + 14.)
Al Rogers (drums on 08.)
Stu Scharf (guitar on 08.)
Louie Shelton (guitar on 11. + 15.)
Tommy Tedesco (guitar on 11. + 14.)
Freddie Weller (guitar on 09.)

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Tracklist:
01. Brand New Day (Kooper) 5.10
02. Piano Solo Introiduction/I Got A Woman (Kooper/Charles/Richard) 6.30
03. Country Road (Taylor) 4.22
04. I Bought You The Shoes (You’re Walking Away In) (Brass/Levine/Kooper) 1.57
05. Sad Sad Sunshine (Kopper) 5.04
06. Let The Duchess No (Gregory/Roberts) 3.17
07. She Gets Me Where I Live (Kooper/Calello) 3.34
08. A Rose And A Baby Ruth (Loudermilk) 3.29
09. Baby Please Don´t Go (Williams) 12.26
10. God Shreds His Grace On Thee (Kooper/Calello) 3.27

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