Get this crazy baby off my head!


Al Kooper

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

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. © Lindsay Planer © 2010 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:r98uak1k5m3m

A great album from the neglected Al Kooper, member of the great blues rock revivalist band, the Blues Project, and of course the original leader of the great jazz rock outfit, Blood, Sweat & Tears. Al released many great solo records, mixing many different musical genres, with no great commercial success. For such a talented musician and composer, it is amazing how overlooked Al Kooper is. "New York City" is another mix of musical genres, and styles, ranging from the cynical Lou Reed /Randy Newman/Leonard Cohen style "New York City (You're a Woman)" to the mellower, jazz pop flavoured John/Taupin "Come Down in Time", but there are so many other influences running through the album. "Going Quietly Mad" is a Beatlesque/George Harrison flavoured tune, and Bo Diddley's "Dearest Darling" is a great soul/R&B Gospel influenced tune, very much in the BS,&T/David Clayton-Thomas Style. Musicians include guitarist, Caleb Quaye, (Hookfoot, John Mayall's Bluesology), Herbie Flowers, (Blue Mink, David Bowie, Lou Reed), and vocalists, Rita Coolidge, Vanetta Fields, Clydie King. "New York City (You're a Woman)" is HR by A.O.O.F.C. Listen to Al's "Black Koffee" album, the classic Blood, Sweat & Tears' "Child Is Father to the Man" album, and the Bloomfield/Kooper/Stills' "Super Session" album


1."New York City (You're a Woman)" (Al Kooper) – 5:20
2."John the Baptist (Holy John)" (Kooper, Phyllis Major) – 3:34
3."Can You Hear It Now (500 Miles)" (Traditional, arranged by Kooper) – 3:27
4."The Ballad of the Hard Rock Kid" (Kooper) – 4:19
5."Going Quietly Mad" (Kooper) – 3:54
"Oo Wee Baby, I Love You" (Richard Parker) – 1:59
"Love Is A Man's Best Friend" (Irwin Levine, Kooper) – 2:24
7."Back on My Feet" (Kooper) – 3:22
8."Come Down in Time" (Bernie Taupin, Elton John) – 4:39
9."Dearest Darling" (Bo Diddley) – 3:55
10."Nightmare #5" (Kooper) – 3:00
11."The Warning (Someone's on the Cross Again)" (Kooper, P. Major) – 3:00

"The title song was an autobiographical paen to my home town, that strangely got recorded in London and Los Angeles. I went overseas to work with Herbie Flowers, the bassist. I heard him play on an Elton John album and HAD to work with him. Most of the album was recorded in Los Angeles. The English tracks are the title song, Going Quietly Mad, and Nightmare # 5. The backing band in London was almost completely the band Hookfoot, whom Elton introduced me to. The West Coast band was the amazing Carol Kaye on bass, Louie Shelton on guitar and Paul Humphries on drums. These are people I was introduced to by Denny Cordell, Joe Cocker's producer. John The Baptist and The Warning, which are two early gospel songs were written with Bobby Neuwirth's-then-girlfriend, Phyliss Major. She was the lyricist. She was later married to Jackson Brown and then committed suicide in the mid-70's. We wrote about ten songs together. The Ballad Of The Hard Rock Kid, in best Bob Dylan tradition, was taken from a newspaper article. If I had my druthers now, it would be taken off the album. My favorite tacks are the title song, John The Baptist, Going Quietly Mad (a tribute to The Beatles), the cover of Elton's Come Down In Time (which he quite enjoyed at the time) and Nightmare # 5, which was a dream I actually had 3 nights in a row when I was 16". © Al Kooper


Al Kooper: piano, organ, guitars, Mellotron, harmonium, singer vocals
Lou Shelton: guitar (tracks 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 11)
Caleb Quaye: guitar (tracks 5 and 10)
Sneaky Pete Kleinow: pedal steel (tracks 4 and 11)
Bobby West: acoustic and electric basses (tracks 3, 6 and 8)
Herbie Flowers: electric bass (tracks 1, 5, 8 and 10)
Carol Kaye: electric bass (tracks 2, 4, 7, 9 and 11)
Paul Humphries: drums (tracks 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11)
Roger Pope: drums (tracks 1, 5 and 10)
Bobbi Hall Porter: percussion (tracks 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11)
Various combinations of Rita Coolidge, Vanetta Fields, Clydie King, Donna Weiss, Julia Tillman, Edna Wright, Maxine Willard, Lorna Willard, Edna Woods, Claudia Lennear, Dorothy Morrison, Robbie Montgomery, Jessie Smith, Robert John, Mike Gately and Jay Seigal: backing vocals (tracks 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11)


As the 1960s came to a close, the Band changed the orientation of rock temporarily with their earnest, scholarly take on roots rock. Suddenly, it became de rigueur, especially among performers who took themselves dead seriously, to have sepia-tone album covers, tasteful mandolin flourishes and lyrics about outlaws and Civil War soldiers. One of the most surprising albums in this vein, in retrospect, is Elton John’s 1971 album Tumbleweed Connection. It’s hard to imagine a time when the flamboyant pop Liberace behind the maudlin tribute to Princess Diana and the bathetic schmaltz of The Lion King soundtrack was considered a bona fide rock performer, but this record survives as evidence. Tumbleweed Connection, particularly the astounding bass playing of Herbie Flowers, left a deep impression on Al Kooper, who responded by recording his own sepia-tone solo record, New York City (Your’re A Woman), making use of Flowers’s services and covering John’s “Come Down in Time”. Kooper’s main claim to fame now may be his organ playing on Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde albums, but in the 1960s he also played in the Blues Project, one of America’s first blues-rock revivalists, and then later put together the original Blood Sweat & Tears lineup, unleashing horn-section rock on an unsuspecting world. After being booted from that band in a clash of egos, BST would go on to record one of the signature albums of the era, whose hits—“And When I Die”, “Spinning Wheel”, “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”—continue to pollute oldies stations’ playlists and whose success spawned the likes of Chicago. Meanwhile, Kooper became an A&R man for Columbia Records and something of a rock history footnote. He released several genre-fusing solo records, musicanly albums seemingly made for other session musicians’ appreciation that accordingly left no particular impression on the listening public. Though Kooper’s albums seem largely to have been unfortunately forgotten (mostly out of print and never reissued in the US) , none is more deserving of rediscovery than New York City (You’re a Woman). It features some of the best of his original compositions and is free of his tendency to include reinterpretations of over-familiar songs like “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” and James Taylor’s “Country Road.” The album’s tone of grim determination is established immediately with the sweeping title track, an unsentimental tribute which wastes no time in letting us know what sort of woman New York City is (“a cold-hearted bitch”). Amid the string arrangements, the massed backing vocals and florid keyboards, Flowers’s searching bass runs cut through. Perpetually surprising, his bass playing here is almost impossibly expressive, as mercurial and difficult to assimilate as the city itself. This is followed by “John the Baptist (Holy John),” which sounds like a hyper-orchestrated version of the Band, down to the Rick Danko impersonation Kooper offers in his vocal. But Kooper is nowhere near as self-consciously rootsy; he is too much enamored of concocting complex arrangements to keep anything rugged and rudimentary. “John the Baptist” and the similar “Can You Hear It Now (500 Miles)” which follows both feature dense yet subtle arrangements, with a variety instruments coming in and out of the mix—a sudden flute or trumpet line here, an organ swell there, a background vocal suddenly cutting through, a guitar lick punctuating a drum fill. After the opening trio, the album falls off some. “Ballad of a Hard Rock Kid” sounds like session pros aping Mott the Hoople, and “Going Quietly Mad” attempts to approximate the Beatles but is sunk by Kooper’s strained vocals, which makes one wonder if he’s performing the song straight or doing a Zappaesque parody. And his obligatory 60s soul homage, the medley of “Oo Wee Baby, I Love You” and “Love Is A Man’s Best Friend,” is competent but perfunctory, more a signal of where Kooper’s heart is at than a satisfying recording in and of itself. It’s impeccably played and produced, but it won’t make you forget about Wilson Pickett. His cover of Bo Diddley’s “Dearest Darling” works a little better; that it sounds like he’s trying too hard manages to come across as endearing. But the record regains its footing with the exuberantly loopy “Back on My Feet” and the cover of Elton John’s “Come Down in Time”, a rival for the original. Here Kooper’s vocal limitations actually serve the song well, especially next to John’s take, which seems bombastic in comparison. Kooper also clears the arrangement out to highlight Flowers’s bass. The solo passage shifts the tempo and gives the song a more dynamic feel as well, once you get used to keyboard’s initially off-putting pseudo-clarinet tone. The album concludes by returning to the mock Band sound. “Nightmare #5” is another Flowers showcase, with a storytelling lyric about a cosmic hitch-hiking trip, and “The Warning (Someone’s on the Cross Again)” returns to the religious motifs that permeate the record. But the explicit appropriations of Christian imagery seem to have less a spiritual than musical purpose; they just seem part of the accoutrements of approximating a gospel sound. They signify Kooper’s lofty artistic goals without muddying them with any particular message, biblical or otherwise. Instead, listeners are left with a sense of musical ambition, even in the form of outright imitation, as an engrossing calling that requires discipline and permits only controlled release, and supplying, in the end, if not transcendence, then the pleasant exhaustion of energy well spent. © Rob Horning, PopMatters General Features Editor 1999-2010 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/al-kooper-new-york-city-youre-a-woman-1971/


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. Bruce Eder © 2010 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved.http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:hifpxqe5ldde~T1

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A.O.O.F.C said...