Look at Al Kooper's Home Movie
by Ray D'Ariano
see a great little flick about a rock legend?
you do. But hang in there for a moment
Allman Brothers Live At The Fillmore East" is often
said to be the greatest live album ever recorded. It's
not. Don't get me wrong it is a spectacular recording
of a brilliant performance by one of the greatest bands
in history. It's just not the greatest of all time. I've
decided it comes in second place. See, last month I got
a new iPod and was digging through a trunk pulling out
dozens of CD's that I hadn't heard in a while so that
I could load them into my new toy. There it was
Al Kooper's "Soul Of A Man," the greatest live
album of all time. The iPod project was put on hold and
I spent some time with this old favorite. Not only did
the collection stand up, it was even better than I remembered.
thing is like the Allman's album "Soul
Of A Man" was also recorded in New York City. It
all went down at The Bottom Line on the occasion of Al's
50th birthday celebration back in 1994. There were three
sets a night. The first featured a reunited Blues Project.
The second set had a lot of the boys from the original
Blood Sweat and Tears guys like Jim Fielder, Randy
Brecker, Lou Soloff and Fred Lipsius. The third set featured
The Rekooperators and guest stars like John Sebastian
and Chuck Berry's pianist, the great Johnnie Johnson.
performed stuff from Al's entire recording career including
Flute Thing, Somethin' Goin' On, I Can't Quit Her, You
Can't Always Get What You Want, Season Of The Witch, and
Just One Smile. All those and more make up the double
CD. Now I'm not saying "Soul Of A Man" is the
greatest live rock album ever because it's not just rock.
The set contains country, blues, pop, jazz, and rock.
I'm suggesting that it is the greatest overall live album
of all time. The production quality is outstanding and
it's probably the best Al Kooper compilation ever.
discussion of great live albums would be complete without
paying tribute to Joe Cocker's "Mad Dogs & Englishmen"
from the early 70's. This is a true classic from what
turned out to be a one of a kind tour that featured Leon
Russell, Rita Coolidge, Bobby Keyes, and the rest of the
43-member entourage. The large group were all on the same
stage kicking out amazing tunes like: The Letter, Space
Captain, Feelin' Alright, With A Little Help From My Friends,
Delta Lady and Honky Tonk Woman. The DVD of the tour's
theatrical film came out last year.
let me tie this all together. When I rediscovered "Soul
Of A Man" for the iPod project I decided to go to
Kooper's web site and send him an email to say hi and
thank him. While at the site I stumbled across a note
that read: "Free Video!! To see Al's homemade video
of his Italy/Scandinavian tour click here". CLICK
and there it was "Heady Spaghetti and Salmon
on the Hammond."
documentary is somewhat shorter than the Cocker DVD, which
is a shame because the 25 minutes or so of sound checks,
bits of concert performances with The Funky Faculty, backstage
footage and interviews are tremendous. Al tells some fantastic
stories including one about a phone call from George Harrison.
I don't want to spoil the party so I'll let you hear it
for yourself on the video.
glimpses into Kooper the artist relaxing backstage and
dealing with questions that he's been asked a thousand
times by interviewers offers an insight into the man's
patience, not to mention his total understanding of what
he means to people. Small flashes of his wit are also
exposed. He is a wise road warrior who has seen and done
it all and a man who totally understands his gig.
Spaghetti and Salmon on the Hammond" was videotaped
by ML Liebler, directed by Liebler and Al Kooper and features
the talents of Bob Doezema - guitar, Larry Finn - Drums,
Jeff Stout - Trumpet, Daryl Lowery - alto sax & flute,
and Jessie Williams - bass.
and check it out. It's a treat. I wish they'd release
a two-hour version like the Cocker flick, but I'm thankful
for the short film that does exist.