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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Al Kooper - Easy Does It (1970 us, noble psychedelic, blues, folk jazz rock, 2008 remaster)

This is the third solo effort from rock & roll wunderkind Al Kooper.  Originally issued as a two-LP set, Easy Does It (1970) is a diverse album that reveals the layer upon layer of musicality that has become synonymous with the artist. He draws deeply upon his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and equally engaging arranger. 

The extended run-time of the double album format likewise allows Kooper to thoroughly exhibit his wide-ranging and virtually mythical adaptability as an artist whose sheer talent defies the boundaries of genre or style. The set kicks off with the youthfully optimistic rocker "Brand New Day."

This is the first of two tracks Kooper used in his score for Hal Ashby's directorial cinematic debut, The Landlord, a highly affable counterculture classic starring Beau Bridges.  The haunting "The Landlord Love Theme" is also included, and is poignantly dovetailed with one of the disc's profoundly affective epics. "Buckskin Boy" is an uptempo rocker that lyrically offers a brutally honest assessment of the Native American situation, which was quickly becoming a national plague upon the social conscience of the country in the early '70s. 

The song is replete with Kooper's dynamic chord changes and trademark phrasing. The "morning after" fallout from a particularly potent experience with LSD is credited as the inspiration behind "Sad, Sad Sunshine." The cut features some heavily Eastern-influenced lead sitar work reminiscent of the sounds of Donovan circa Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968) and the burgeoning Canterbury-based progressive folk movement of the late '60s and early '70s. 

There is a decidedly Yankee contrast on the country-rocker "I Bought You the Shoes (You're Walking Away In)" as well as the cover of John Loudermilk's "A Rose and a Baby Ruth." Other well-placed cover tunes include a classy, soulfully subdued reading of Ray Charles "I Got a Woman'" as well as the spacy and well-jammed-out version of "Baby Please Don't Go." Throughout the 12-plus minute side there are definite recollections of the extended instrumental interaction that defined Kooper's former band, the Blues Project, as well as some of the inspirational improvisation heard on the original Super Session (1968). 
This performance alone is more than worth the time and effort of seeking out Easy Does It. 
by Lindsay Planer

1. Brand New Day (Al Kooper) - 5:10
2. Piano Solo Introduction to I Got a Woman - 2:00
3. I Got a Woman (Ray Charles, Renald Richard) - 4:30
4. Country Road (James Taylor) - 4:22
5. I Bought You The Shoes (You're Walking Away In) (Bob Brass, Irwin Levine, Kooper) - 1:57
6. Introduction - 0:50
7. Easy Does It (Kooper) - 5:25
8. Buckskin Boy (Kooper, Charlie Calello) - 3:10
9. Love Theme from The Landlord (Kooper) - 3:12
10.Sad, Sad Sunshine (Kooper) - 5:04
11.Let the Duchess No (John Gregory, Jim Roberts) - 3:17
12.She Gets Me Where I Live (Kooper, Calello) - 3:34
13.A Rose and a Baby Ruth (J.D. Loudermilk) - 3:29
14.Baby, Please Don't Go (Big Joe Williams) - 12:26
15.God Sheds His Grace on Thee (Kooper, Calello) - 3:27

*Rick Marotta - Drums, Vocals (Background)
*Wayne Moss - Guitar
*Joe Osborne - Bass
*Earl Palmer - Drums, Guitar (Steel)
*Alexis Rodgers - Guitar, Drums
*Al Rogers - Drums
*Stuart Scharf - Guitar
*Tommy Tedesco - Guitar
*Stu Woods - Bass, Vocals (Background)
*Charlie McCoy - Bass, Harmonica
*John Miller - Bass
*Joe Jr. Corero - Drums
*Stu Scharff - Guitar
*Lyle Ritz - Bass
*Keith Allison - Guitar
*Pete Drake - Pedal Steel, Guitar (Steel)
*John Miller - Bass
*Freddy Weller - Guitar
*The Blossoms - Vocals, Background Music
*Louie Shelton - Guitar
*Peter Ivers - Harp
*Kenneth A. Buttrey - Drums
*Charlie Daniels - Bass, Guitar
*Bobby Colomby - Conga, Drums, Vocals
*Tom Cosgrove - Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
*George Devens - Percussion
*Milt Holland - Percussion, Tabla
*Larry Knechtel - Piano, Keyboards
*David Bromberg - Guitar, Guitar (Steel), Pedal Steel
*Al Kooper - Organ, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Electronic Effects, Ondioline, Vibraphone, Vocals (Background), Sitar, Guitar (Electric), Piano
*Joe Beck - Guitar
*Fred Lipsius - Saxophone, Soloist

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