I've been listening to this album since its release
April 29, 2009
By Sandra in Motown "MotownBabe" (Motown)
This album is perfection, it never gets "old", it's superb in all ways. It still thrills me, and best of all, it takes me BACK deliciously. Thanks for the GREAT music, guys!
1968 was a very long time ago..........
March 19, 2002
..but I was there, a musically precocious 11 yr old. Thanks to cousins, I was already "hip" to Coltrane, Jobim, Wes Montgomery,well great musics in general. I remember this recording quite well, it really captured my fascination then.
I've read the various reviews here on Amazon, so I put alittle of my own "spice" to add the conversation.
This recording is the trunk of the tree jazz rock grew from(the "non-fusion" jazzrock). Al Kooper's vision was "right on it", as he had the notion to utilize horns in rockmusics with a "big band" concept in mind, wonderful expansive chords voiced by the section, not just the usual R&B riffing that was the state of things in pop musics until then.
The "tragedy" lies right in this recording, Al Kooper's compositions, the arrangements, the humor in the music itself, and presentation(Laughter, animal noises,et al.)--MAN , this guy was really ahead of the trends, BUT--
1) Mr Kooper's limited vocal range, and generally affected singing(He sounds best on the wonderful bossa nova version of Nillson's "Without Her", where his vocal range is not taxed), and the Anglo Soul Brother frasing is amusingly dated and corny now--.
2) Steve Katz, while a very good vocalist, is not much of a guitar soloist, and is a weak link in this manner(though if it is him, the bossa style comping on the aforementioned Nillson tune is quite capable).
3) The wonderful altered blues instrumental only released on this cd should have been on the original lp release, it is a fine blend of New Orleans-inspired 2nd line groove with a swing release, and includes a fine alto solo by Fred Lipscius(his Bird inspired alto burns on every track he solos on on this cd), and Randy Brecker(Horace Silver bound soon after this recording) and Jerry Weiss play some nice horn too!
So what I mean is, in an alternate universe, if Kooper could "sing", Katz could "blow", I think that this band would have been "untouchable", they would have been "it", the high water mark of jazzrock musics. Instead, the band mutinies and dumps Kooper, gets DC Thomas, and has a string of CORNY LAs Vegas style "hits".
(even drafting more jazz pedigreed players later -Larry Willis, for example- couldnt get this aggregate "de-Wayne Newtonized".)
*Funny , as I write this , I realize how many rock acts are in Las Vegas nowadays, Uffa! Is pop music in a pathetic state or what?? It SURE is, but this is another story..
"AK" is not a jazzman, not a blues man, nor pop Bob Dylan folkboy. He is one of the few American proponents of what in Brasil is called "antropofagia"-- Kooper is canniblizing ALL different styles of musics and mixing it all up into the KOOPERSOUND.
He gives jazz legitimacy to rock, a rocking edge to jazz, etc etc..Bad vocalizing aside, the group seems inspired totally with Kooper's concept.
BIG credit goes to John Simon's production, and Fred Lipscius/Kooper's horn and strings arrangements.
The delicious grooves are a treat too, from bossa to gutbucket blues, 2nd line to pure pop!
Bassplayers check the understated but incredibly tastey basswork alla way through this recording, Jim Fielder is an unsung hero in this regard.
All in all, Al Kooper shoudnt be a footnote, but a major innovator in the history of pop musics,and this recording is only ONE example--KOOPER also wrote many tin pan alley pop hits, most memorably "This Diamond Ring".
His ability to find rock "talent" is legendary(Michael Bloomfield, Steve Stills, even this Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kooper was there!)
Finally,dont disregard the humor in this recording, music without humor , I cant imagine this at all! There's alotta joy in these songs.