Hidden Tracks: Out of The Past

Sorry for the week respite, but I wasn’t feeling very inspired. After a long weekend and a couple days being sick, I couldn’t bring myself to sit in front of my computer.

But my downtime wasn’t totally unproductive. Besides music, I enjoy reading and I find myself wandering my local Border’s quite often; which is where I found myself this past weekend. For the most part, I like to read history because as a great man once said, “how will you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?”

As I picked through the racks I found a book I hadn’t read in 30 years. “Backstage Passes," is Al Kooper’s autobiography about his life in rock n’ roll. If you don’t know who Al Kooper is, then a lesson in rock history is in order.

He had a hand in some of rock’s greatest moments. And even if you don’t know him by name, you have heard his influence in modern music. Pick up Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited." You’ll know his work because it was his labor on the organ that ignited a generation. He also plays one of the most famous French horn solo in rock n’ roll history for some lads from England.

On top of that he’s produced records for the likes of B.B. King, The Tubes, Nils Lofgren and Lynyrd Skynyrd, just to name a few and that barely scratches the surface of his influence in music.

He also created a sound that was copied by many other artists. Which brings me to the album I am going to talk about this week. As I was re-reading his autobiography I popped in “Child is Father to the Man," the first album by Blood, Sweat and Tears and the only one in which Mr. Kooper was involved.

When most people think of BS&T they think of David Clayton Thomas and “Spinning Wheel," but that was the Kooper-less version of the band, and bears little resemblance musically to the original group.

The power horn sound that became prevalent throughout rock of the late 60’s and beyond was his creation. The band Chicago often gets credit for that style but they came along after BS&T.

The album starts out with “Overture," full of violins, cellos and manic laughter. You know right away this is going to be something different. That’s followed by “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know," with an organ and a driving horn chart that makes for a love song you won’t soon forget.

“Morning Glory” follows and also has that trademark Kooper organ playing. “My Days Are Numbered” and “I Can’t Quit Her” have the blues/rock feel that is timeless. “Without Her” is a nice bosa nova change of pace. “Just One Smile” and “So Much Love” are a pair of covers that were never imagined this way. All in, this album is what the word “classic” describes and should be part of any serious music collection.

That’s the history lesson for this week. Now, class dismissed.

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