(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) —
Steve Vai's Favored Nations Entertainment has signed musician/producer/songwriter Al Kooper. His label debut, Black Coffee, his first true solo album in 30 years, will be released July 12. "I made the record I wanted to make, and I'm very pleased with it," saidl Kooper. "To me, that's what success means."
Nine new Kooper compositions appear on the new CD, including co-writes with Dan Penn (“Going, Going, Gone”) and Sandi Stewart (“Imaginary Lover”) as well as Kooper’s own stamp on the Temptations’ “Get Ready,” Keb’ Mo’s “Am I Wrong,” former Dire Straits member Hal Lindes’ “Got My Ion Hue” and the Ray Charles classic, “Just For A Thrill,” a salute to one of his greatest influences. Liner notes were penned by Andrew Loog Oldham, former manager/producer of The Rolling Stones and one of Kooper’s favorite scribes.
Two of the album’s tracks were recorded live at the Notodden Blues Festival in Norway in 2001: a rollicking version of Booker T. and the MGs’ “Green Onions,” and an extended jam on a Kooper original, “Comin’ Back In A Cadillac.”
In a career that spans over 45 years, Kooper has had an impact on music history. It began in his teens as a member of the appropriately named Royal Teens of “Short Shorts” fame; continued as a songwriter of such hits as “This Diamond Ring” for Gary Lewis and the Playboys and “I Must Be Seeing Things” for Gene Pitney; followed by his band years as a member of the Blues Project and founder of Blood, Sweat and Tears; expanded into television as musical director for Ray Charles’ 50th Anniversary TV special, soundtrack work on Michael Mann’s TV series, Crime Story; and on to major film scoring, such as Hal Ashby’s first film, The Landlord.
Some of his best-known moments have been his contributions to several landmark recordings as a sideman musician (he played the signature organ riff heard on Dylan’s classic “Like A Rolling Stone” and Dylan albums Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blond, and can also be heard on The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” as well as Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland and The Who’s The Who Sell Out), and as a featured artist for his own hit albums: Super Session, which teamed him up with guitar greats Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills, and The Live Adventures Of Mike Bloomfield And Al Kooper, both of which reached the top 20 on the Billboard album chart. Kooper released six solo albums between 1968 and 1976, including I Stand Alone and New York City (You’re A Woman). His songs have been recorded by Donny Hathaway, Carmen MacRae, The Staple Singers, Betty Wright, Ten Years After, and sampled by The Beastie Boys, Jay-Z and Pharcyde, to name but a few.
He also discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd, signed the band to his Sounds of the South label and produced their first three albums, which launched such classic rock hits as “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird,” “Gimme Three Steps” and “Saturday Night Special.” His autobiography, Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards, is now being readied as an audio book narrated by Kooper himself. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen