Happy 70th b'day, Bob! I'll ketchup in three years. Here we are, clean-shaven in 1965, discussing the merits of suede versus leather.
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FREE Full Interactive Booklet for 50/50 Album!!
If ya wanna see EVERYTHING about the 50/50 album, downlaod this zipfile. After you unzip the file, make sure you open the regular file with Adobe Reader preferably version 9, as it is a .pdf file. If you make it a fullscreen file, you won't have to squint & curse me out !! If you have not purchased the album, it is only available as a download on iTunes, fer instance - 50 songs for 24.99 - SUCH A DEAL!!!! Have fun either way.
Free Video!! To See Al's homemade video of his Italy/Scandinavian tour, click here.
Obscurativa Radio Shows Now Available!
Welcome to Al Kooper's Website where we hope you find your way to all things Al. We are constantly upgrading and tweaking, so visit often and you'll always find a little surprise here or there. Feel free to sign our guest book and help create a cyber-mailing-list.
Among some of the goodies onboard are Al's personal Top 100, diaries from various road trips, Al's guide through his various solo albums, rare photos, up-to-date live concert info, a biography, and lots more stuff on the way.
Al's autobiography, "Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards" (Billboard Books-USA) was published in November, 1998. For more info on the book and some rave reviews, click here.
With the exception of the "Landlord" soundtrack album, all of Al's albums are in print on CD! There aren't many in print in the USA, mind you, but with a little cyber-sleuthing import shops and online vendors can usually turn up a fresh laser copy of your favorite dog-eared Kooper LP.
Al would also like to take this opportunity to thank his ole buddy Elliott Randall, guitarist extraordinaire, for being the webmaster/codewarrior on this site. See? And you thought he only played guitar!
So, sit back and hopefully, everything you ever wanted to know about Al Kooper but were afraid to ask, will come leaping at you from your monitor in due time. Thanks for visiting and please return on a regular basis for updates and new goodies!
UPDATE- May 17th, 2011
As usual, long time no see. Things have been extremely topsy-turvy because of the world situation. This is as close to tweeting as
a grizzled old-school, 67-year-old man will get. I won’t take any political stance, cause that’s not who I am. However the fallout from such things are causing me everyday problems; i.e. playing gigs, being threatened by computer cloud deals, and sitting by watching the industry that raised me, fall into little-bitty pieces.
Then also to watch my Japanese friends face Mother Nature who can fer sure be meaner than any businessmen. It’s not a great time.
So, I mostly stay holed up in my home studio, working on my next and probably last album, tentatively titled “Back To The Beginning Again.” I recently went to Miami and reunited with my mentor and r&b guitar-hero Little Beaver, cutting two tracks for the album. It was a wonderful experience, spearheaded by the assistance of my old friend Steve Alaimo.
I will say that the upcoming “cloud” deals, will place most songwriters in a comparatively dangerous situation. Pro songwriters are a rare breed. They usually don’t play gigs or make records, especially gold & platinum ones. Popular artists survive by playing gigs – most songwriters can’t survive that way.
They are financed by royalties from radio airplay, TV & movie inclusions, and dreaded, but valuble commercials. They have always been prioritized in these areas, because they DON’T play giant gigs in stadiums and amphitheaters. Lately, artists have been complaining they want part of the songwriter share from these situations. When iTunes jumped out, royalties fell down a bit because they were filtered through and negotiaited by the dying record companies. The royalties for downloaded songs are not near equal to payments for sold hard goods like CDs.
Now there is a movement afoot to afford the consumer access to EVERY track in the iTunes catalogue, on a streaming-only basis, for a fee between $10-$15 monthly. Great for some younger consumers who don’t realize that when this phase dies, they won’t OWN ANY of that music - but financial death to most songwriters. And I mean people like Jimmy Webb, Gerry Goffin, and Barry Mann, not to mention myself who fares less well then the former, BUT makes a living from said royalties AT THIS MOMENT. Now my yearly income could dwindle to next to nothing
if negotiations are successful between iTunes, Amazon, Google and the record companies & music publishers. Pete Townshend, living a higher life because of CSI TV themes once said
“Hope I die b4 I get old”
Already outliving many of my compatriots, I’m still in it for the long run – this is just being a person who has lived his entire life in music and is potentially about to be strangled by it. As a consumer it’s important to me that I own my music collection. Streaming only excites me if I can stream the music I like and own. Otherwise oldage wisdom tells me I can’t go head to head with the record companies & the publishers - I never have been able to do that - they take it off the top and throw me the pennies.
Now they want the pennies – Let’s NOT let this happen – Do what you can, my friends ------ AK
BEST DOWNLOADS JANUARY- MAY 2011
Big Jet Plane 3:59 Angus & Julia Stone
Omega Dog 5:00 The Dears
I'll Haunt You 3:56 Seth Lakeman
When They Bleed 2:57 Alcoholic Faith Mission
Sitting On A Mountain 3:06 Simplified
Black Night 4:12 The Dodos
Fables 4:19 The Dodos
Two Medicines 5:28 The Dodos
Don't Let Your Cheeks Hang Low 4:03 Stamps
Heartache 3:08 Stamps
Me And Lazarus 3:03 Iron & Wine
Goldfinger (Live) 4:03 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Find Another Girl 2:40 Eric Lindell
Jesus 3:22 Amos Lee
Sanctuary 4:18 The Bridge
Any Minute Now 2:55 Charlotte Martin
Life Passed Me By (Single) 2:50 Super Stereo
Eager for Your Love 3:45 Tristen
Gettin' Home 3:55 Simplified
Friday On My Mind 4:15 Gary Moore (R,I,P)
Done 4:48 Mark Ballas
The Breakup 3:18 The Rural Alberta Advantage
Home to You 2:44 Alan Hampton
Stay Kids 4:26 ANR
Lonely Loves 2:02 Bahamas
Livin' In the Jungle 3:22 Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
A Man for Others 4:34 Bryan Master
Lucky 3:27 Marc Broussard
Tin Can Trust 4:35 Los Lobos
Medicine Man 4:15 The Band of Heathens
Gris Gris Satchel 3:47 The Band of Heathens
Sons and Daughters 3:40 Blackpool Lights
See the darkness of Al's domiciles - click here.
"50/50" is now availalbe on iTunes, Rhapsody, etc. Full interactive booklet only available here.
"...Al Kooper is a skilled musician who's had a hand in some of the biggest and best albums in pop history--Highway 61 Revisited, Let It Bleed, and The Who Sell Out among them--but more importantly has a vastly impressive recording catalog of his own. A former member of New York's Blues Project and the founder of Blood Sweat & Tears--whose Child Is Father To The Man album, the only one featuring Kooper, is one of the finest pop records ever--Kooper released a string of excellent albums beginning with 1968's I Stand Alone, and most of them can be sampled here. A 50-track digital only release, the set is artfully sequenced and without a single moment of filler. I would suggest you find all his albums--especially 1969's You Never Know Who Your Friends Are, which approaches the BS&T album in its greatness--but in the meantime, check out this collection for a taste of this artist's fab greatness. It's easier to file than ever!..."
DAVE DIMARTINO,YAHOO MUSIC
Febuary 18th, 2009
Al's new album "White Chocolate" is now available for purchase! Click here or go to store to place your order now. All copies will be signed!
"...Coming just three years after Black Coffee, his first solo studio album of new material in three decades, White Chocolate (what's next, "Green Tea"?) is quite possibly the most satisfying solo release of this veteran's 50-year career. The title is the giveaway: Kooper has always championed classic soul music above all else, but now he's graduated from paying homage to his heroes of the '60s and '70s to absorbing their essence and personifying the music's most attractive qualities himself -- maybe this release falls short of equaling the best of Stax, Hi, or Philadelphia International (Kooper would no doubt admit to that), but not by much.
Kooper has always made his best music when he holds the reins and here he not only self-produced and arranged, and of course sang the lead vocals, on some tracks he also played every instrument -- while Kooper's skills as a keyboardist are well established and his guitar work long underrated, he also puts down mandolin, percussion, string sounds, and more. Of course he did have help: several brass teams (including the Uptown Horns) and a vocal trio (including the great Catherine Russell) provide ace support. Various additional guitarists, bassists, and drummers flesh out the tracks but the focus never strays from Kooper himself. For starters, if he's ever enjoyed making a record this much before, you wouldn't know it: Kooper seems so at home here (and not just because most of the album was recorded at his Somerville, MA. home studio). His voice, at 65, has naturally weathered, but he can still hit the notes he needs to hit and never tries to sound like the brash twenty-something kid who recorded Super Session or Child Is Father to the Man. Yet despite the maturity of the music, there's an oversized quality to this recording and a set of instantly memorable melodies and hooks that make it Kooper's most blatantly radio-friendly album in years -- that is, if radio was anything close to what it was in 1968. Hear these songs a couple of times and you will swear you've known them all your life.
But all of this is not to suggest this is a retro affair -- White Chocolate is exactly where Al Kooper should be right now. That's made clear from the first notes of opener "Love Time," as pure a slice of Southern soul/pop as the early 21st century can hope to produce. As the record unfolds, it becomes clearer that the lead track is no fluke: "I Love You More Than Words Can Say," penned by Booker T. Jones and Eddie Floyd back in the day, boasts some seriously funky chops and a tough guitar solo by Bob "Dyno" Doezema. A new take on Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh (It Takes a Train to Cry)," which Kooper and Michael Bloomfield cut on the classic Super Session album 40 years previously, is presented here as a rolling, brassy, souled-up shuffle. And Kooper had to love cutting his song "Staxability," a tribute to the legendary Stax Records of Memphis, with no less than Steve Cropper on guitar and Donald "Duck" Dunn of Booker T. & the MG's on bass. Kooper gets to shout "Play it, Steve!," a line familiar to any fan of vintage soul, and actually gets to hear Cropper do just what he's asked.
In addition to his blue-eyed-soul pedigree, Kooper has always possessed a sharp sense of pop songcraft (he wrote "This Diamond Ring," the huge hit for Gary Lewis & the Playboys), and the chance to co-write two tunes for the album with Gerry Goffin (as in Goffin & King) had to be another dream come true for him. Those two are among the album's highlights: the smooth "You Make Me Feel So Good (All Over)" may not have more than a simple message to offer, but sometimes that's all that's needed to make the connection. And "No 1 2 Call Me Baby," with its phalanx of layered instruments and vocals, is almost Spectorian in its grandness. Other key tracks include the semi-autobiographical "Cast the First Stone," a statement on the politics of our times (of all times?) and how we all fit into those games; a gutsy, bluesy cover of Fred Neil's "Candy Man" (made famous by Roy Orbison); Kooper's interpretation of the Leiber & Stoller/Ben E. King perennial "I (Who Have Nothing)"; the set-closing, gospel-fied "(I Don't Know When But) I Know That I'll Be There Soon" (complete with Farfisa organ and accordion); and "Hold On," a tune of hope and self-determination that offers vocal thrills a-plenty when the powerhouse Russell takes lead on a verse and Kooper counters in his finest falsetto. White Chocolate can serve as a primer for Social Security-age rockers who still think the spandex fits. News flash: it doesn't..."
JEFF TAMARKIN ( blog.allmusic.com)
Febuary 16th, 2009
"...It can't be that easy being Al Kooper. When your talent allows you to chase off in so many directions, how do you decide which one to follow? The answer for Kooper, clearly, is you don't decide. You go after them all. White Chocolate is somewhat of an answer to his last studio album Black Coffee, and shows the gifted musician walking the blue-eyed soul side of the road, veering off into Brill Building pop shadings and paying a nod to his Bob Dylan roots on "It Takes a Lot to Laugh (It Takes a Train to Cry)." The amazing feat the veteran musician accomplishes is how seamless he makes it all sound. But a quick check of Al Kooper's resume shows how it couldn't be any other way: from being a member of the Royal "Short Shorts" Teens, co-writer of Gary Lewis & the Playboys' "This Diamond Ring" hit to founder of the Blues Project and early instigator of Blood, Sweat & Tears, discoverer and producer of Lynyrd Skynyrd along with endless solo albums and sessions with stellar lights like Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Michael Bloomfield, Stephen Stills and others, it's as if this is the Zelig of the rock crowd, except Kooper was often the most talented person in the room. So it's no surprise this new album hits all his sweet spots head on. The opening song, "Love Time," sounds like an instant classic, with Kooper's seductive voice and bedroom moves getting down to immediate business. Hopefully Al Green is listening. There's also a handful of other offerings equally great, and right at the end on "(I Don't Know When But) I Know That I'll Be There Soon," the man does it again, turning in a holy roller performance straight out of the church of eternal soul, making White Chocolate the gift that keeps on giving..."
BENTLEY'S BANDSTAND (sonicboomers.com) - January 13th, 2009
"Perhaps the single most entertaining rock book of the year." DALLAS OBSERVER
"He combines humor, insight and history into a fun, quick read." MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE
"The book is put together like after-dinner conversation with someone who has been at the center of rock and roll for forty years. Read Kooper to get what you need!" PLAYBOY MAGAZINE
"Vonnegut-esque...." ROLLING STONE
"This is a man who lives for music and seems to attract outrageous and often hilarious experiences in the process. His tales are both wonderfully crazed and technically fascinating.." EQ MAGAZINE
"From his work on Bob Dylan's classics to the best of The Rolling Stones, Al Kooper has been a musical Forrest Gump, turning up at many of the great historical moments in rock 'n' roll. Now a professor at Berklee, he looks back at his tumultuous life as a rock star..." BOSTON MAGAZINE
"So who's Al Kooper? He's not only a funny guy whose life story is a you-just- can't-put-it-down read......Kooper is one of the greatest behind-the-scenes performers and producers in rock music history. Read and watch your jaw drop!" RAPID CITY (SD) JOURNAL
"Al Kooper's Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards: Memoirs of a Rock 'n' Roll Survivor (Billboard Books) is an oasis of insight, humor and irreverence in the overstuffed wasteland of rock autobiographies." CHICAGO TRIBUNE
"This is above all, an entertaining read.....Kooper is a funny guy, an equal opportunity puncturer of pretension, including his own....Wherever rock history was being made, he (Kooper) was in the vicinity....." MOJO MAGAZINE (UK)
".....At 61, almost no one alive has lived as much rock 'n' roll history as Mr. Kooper in his assorted lives as performer, producer, sideman, songwriter, author, talent scout, enthusiast, critic and muse...."
SUNDAY NEW YORK TIMES - July 3rd 2005
“....Now, this sixty-one-year-old seems to be hitting his stride as a solo artist. Backed by his band, The Funky Faculty, Kooper has gone back to the future with a release that delivers heartfelt soul and R&B.”
ROLLING STONE – ISSUE #981 – AUGUST 25, 2005
"... Kooper reminds us that he is a major talent from the revelatory songwriting, to the nuanced world-weary singing to the ease in which he plumbs the subterranean depths of his soul and comes up with sheer gold. A career-defining work…..” (4 Stars)"
MOJO MAGAZINE. UK
Chalk “Black Coffee” up as a major comeback from one of the most vital musicians and most fascinating characters of his generation.
NEWHOUSE NEWS SERVICE
Kooper's stature as an exemplary producer and indispensable sideman is insurmountable; with Black Coffee, he shows he can apply that same incredible expertise to his own cause. Grade: A
(Brian Baker) - CINCINNATTI CITY BEAT
“Considered one of the most formidable talents in modern music, he’s played a key role in tens of millions of albums and singles sold in the last forty years.”
MUSIC CONNECTION MAGAZINE
“Mister Everywhere is back in biz!”
BALTIMORE BLUES SOCIETY
“The sane person’s Phil Spector - Al Kooper - is back with a much-too-rare collection of Southern soul, R&B blues, and white person’s funk!”
OTTAWA (CA) CITIZEN
SEPTEMBER 3 2005
“Kooper is the consumate performer - he deftly incorporates Southern soul, sassy blues, R&B, backwoods ramble and a hint of reggae. The result is a solo set that is for once, true to his talents!”
“At 61. Kooper may have created his finest work yet - and it was worth the wait - even if child is now grandfather to the man...”
"....The first thing you want to do after listening to this CD is listen to it again—which is about the strongest endorsement an album can get. Al Kooper’s voice has been sorely missed all these years...."
"... It's a special kind of set from a rock survivor you should pay some attention to, especially if you care about what rock in the contemporary era is all about. ."
-MIDWEST RECORD RECAP
“...If you love The Band, Boz Scaggs, or early Robert Palmer, this delightful album from the man who has already contributed so much to the rich tapestry of rock is for you....**** ”
THE INDEPENDENT (UK)
“The musically well-traveled, and lately professorial, Kooper's debut for guitarist Steve Vai's Favored Nations label marks a welcome return to the studio for one of the prime movers of rock 'n' soul.... The Funky Faculty studio cuts showcase Kooper's still potent producing and arranging genius.... An appealing, aptly titled project that, hopefully, won't get lost in the shuffle.” ***
RECORD COLLECTOR MAGAZINE (UK)
“Black Coffee” is an expertly crafted work of pop that abounds with skillfully played blue-eyed soul, country blues, breezy jazz, gospel & rock.It’s also one of 2005’s top discs.”
THE VIRGINIAN PILOT
AUGUST 5, 2005
“Black Coffee,” his first solo effort since the mid-’70’s is a hot cup of classic R&B peppered with Al Green horn lines....”
“...Kooper and The Funky Faculty, turn up the inspiration dial to 10 and cut loose with a batch of solidly written originals that accent the gritty, immediate and timeless heart of a popular music that hasn’t been so in decades....”
ALL MUSIC GUIDE
Black Coffee is a pretty cool diverse record - a testament to how a talented musician keeps his chops and his edge. Repeated listenings reward the ear with more and more detail....”
“Al Kooper has done it all - from supplying that organ on Bob Dylans’ “Like A Rolling Stone” to discovering Lynyrd Skynyrd....he never could sing, though. Thirty years since his last solo outing, he still can’t.”
Q MAGAZINE (UK)
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