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

Al Kooper - front cover

front cover

Al Kooper - rear cover

inside gate fold

Al Kooper - rear cover

rear cover

Review

Music - 4 stars

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.

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.