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Monday, April 16, 2012

Al Kooper - Naked Songs (1973 us, fabulous jazzy blues folk rock, japan remaster)

Naked Songs represents the other end of Al Kooper's early career from I Stand Alone. Where that first album was recorded very gradually at the outset of his solo career, soon after exiting Blood, Sweat & Tears, Naked Songs was a much more cohesive work (cut in New York and Georgia) from the end of his stay at Columbia Records.

Ironically, it was a contractually obligated album, but never one to throw away an opportunity, Kooper embraced soul, gospel, blues, pop, and even country music in the course of filling its two sides. Playing his usual array of instruments, including loud, note-bending blues guitar and gospel-tinged organ on "As the Years Go Passing By," he effortlessly switches gears to the smoother pop-soul sound of "Jolie," then straight country with a blues tinge on "Blind Baby."

John Prine's grim and uncompromising "Sam Stone" gets an extraordinary performance, but the real surprise is the presence of Sam Cooke's Soul Stirrers-era gospel classic "Touch the Hem of His Garment" -- the latter is one of a pair of Cooke songs (the other is "A Change Is Gonna Come") that one would not expect any white artist to try and cover, much less do well, but Kooper does it justice and then some, and this track alone is worth the price of the album.

The album benefits from the fact that Kooper had spent a good chunk of the prior year working with the Atlanta Rhythm Section (which appears here) as well as discovering Lynyrd Skynyrd. Naked Songs may have been intended mostly to get him out of his Columbia contract, but it proved a highlight of his career as well as his last new recording for four years. Naked Songs was reissued in Japan in 2003 in a mini-LP jacket format in state-of-the-art 24-bit digital audio.
by Bruce Eder

1. (Be Yourself) Be Real (Kooper) - 3:27
2. As the Years Go Passing By (Malone) - 6:04
3. Jolie (Kooper) - 3:49
4. Blind Baby (Kooper) - 3:07
5. Been and Gone (Peacock) - 2:37
6. Sam Stone (Prine) - 4:41
7. Peacock Lady (Kooper) - 3:23
8. Touch the Hem of His Garment (Cooke) - 4:04
9. Where Were You When I NeededYou (Kooper, Levine) - 3:12
10. Unrequited (Kooper) - 2:54

*Al Kooper - Bass, Flute, Acoustic, Rhythm Guitar, Gut String Guitar, Harpsichord, Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Vocals
*Patti Austin - Vocals
*Barry Bailey - Guitar
*Charlie Bradley - Engineer
*Charlie Brown - Rhythm, Slide Guitar
*J.R. Cobb - Acoustic Guitar
*Dean Daughtry - Piano
*John Paul Fetta - Bass
*Michael Gately - Vocals
*Eileen Gilbert - Vocals
*Paul Goddard - Bass
*Richard Greene - Fiddle
*Junior Hanley - Drums
*Robert John - Vocals
*Maruga - Drums
*Robert Nix - Drums
*Linda November - Vocals
*Albertine Robinson - Vocals
*Stuart Scharf - Acoustic Guitar
*Maretha Stewart - Vocals
*Tasha Thomas - Vocals
*Jimmy Wisner - String Arrangements

Related Act
1970  Al Kooper - Easy Does It
1973  The Original Blues Project - Reunion in Central Park
*For more Al Kooper (solo or collaboration works, please feel free to ask for)

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  1. Many thanks for this Japanese audiophile version. Fantastic share, Marios!

  2. Not the best Al Kooper but still very good. Thanks Marios

  3. Thank you so much for Naked Songs. By chance do you have Easy Does It or A Possible Projection of the Future to share?

  4. Hi Anonym,
    "Easy Does It" added,
    check on the last row of this post.
    Thank you

  5. Hello Marios, thanks for directing me to the Easy Does It link. Not sure how I missed the post, but I guess it is a sign I now need eye-glasses, (lol). Thank you again, my friend.

  6. I've been searching for a Al Kooper album/song. New York City. Please help. Early 70s. Thanx