Al Kooper
I Stand Alone - Columbia 1969

Music - 5 stars

Al Kooper
You Never Know who your Friends Are - Columbia 1969

Music - 4 stars

Al Kooper
Easy Does It (2 record set) - Columbia 1970

Music - 5 stars

Al Kooper I Stand Alone front cover

front cover

Al Kooper I Stand Alone inside gatefold

inside gatefold

Al Kooper I Stand Alone rear cover

rear cover

Review

Al is one of the brightest and most creative people in rock. By the time this album was released in early 1969 his accomplishments were notable.

Remember at the time collages were very popular and they are used freely here. Kooper is an idea man. and it shows as all kinds of sound effects weave through the music, and this album brims with entrancing music Kooper is a solid vocalist and a surprisingly adept songwriter.If you liked the lead vocalist on the very first Blood Sweat and Tears album it is Al Kooper.

For those put off by the specter of another 1960’s experimental album be comforted Vinyl History endorses this record highly.

Now lets look at covers. Kooper scores with interpretations as diverse as Nilsson’s "One", Traffic's "Coloured Rain" Gamble and Huff's "Hey Western Union Man" and a mind blowing romp through Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" that's as good as any cover of this tune I've heard.

The liner notes will remind you of some other 60's albums but here they're just plain fun. This is packaged in an eye catching gatefold of you-know who standing in for the Statue Of Liberty. All in all Al Kooper’s first record is as much fun as a basket of Kittens.

- Allan J Moore

Al Kooper - front cover

front cover

Al Kooper -inside gatefold

inside gatefold

Al Kooper - rear cover

rear cover

Review

This LP was released in the fall of 1969 about 6 months after Kooper's groundbreaking initial solo album. "I Stand Alone". Possibly the timing was poor since "Friends" went by with little attention. What "Friends" accomplished was solidification of the Al Kooper style.

There are nine Kooper originals, two solid Motown covers and a really nice version of Harry Nilsson's Morning Glory Story. "Friends" kicks off with a nod to Blood Sweat and Tears; "Magic in My Socks". His songwriting prowess continues to grow through rockers. and some well constructed, beautifully arranged ballads.

The title track sports an unusual arrangement, making it good and memorable. "The Great American Marriage/Nothing", "Anna Lee", and "I'm never gonna Let You Down" show Koopers artistic leap as a ballad writer. "Friends" could very well have served as a debut album, or possibly a Blood Sweat and Tears disc with Kooper in the group. The gatefold package depicts in {black and white} police beating up demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic Convention.

- Allan J Moore

Note: This album is now in high demand. If you are lucky enough to locate a decent vinyl copy expect a premium price. The best deal we found [if you want to hear the music now] is a two-for from Amazon.com incorporating this and the first album. It’s a nice package for some great late 60's music. The Folks at Vinyl History.

Al Kooper - front cover

front cover

Al Kooper -inside gatefold

inside gatefold

Al Kooper - rear cover

rear cover

Due to youth and magnitude of his talent Al Kooper had gotten tagged with the nickname "Wunderkind" There's no better proof of his diversity than "Easy Does It", This album really does rock, as the charismatic Kooper delivers four sides of music with nary a sour note.

Though he was often criticized for weak vocals, we never saw it that way. Anyway the good vocals and strong material make this 2 record set a Kooper stunner.

- Allan J Moore