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Al Kooper


Al Kooper has a lot to answer for: the Hammond organ sound (he drove the B-3 that drove BobDylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” and played one behind Dylan at Newport ’65); jazz-rock (he helped start the Blues Project); the horny rock band (Blood Sweat & Tears was his idea, but the group booted him after one LP); the celebrity jam (Super Session, with Michael Bloomfield and Stephen Stills, remains Kooper’s best-selling product); “Freebird” (he produced Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first record); and an array of self-important but goofily lovable solo albums. As a session man, Kooper has credits with Jimi Hendrix(Electric Ladyland‘s “Long Hot Summer Nights”), the Who (“Rael” on The Who Sell Out), and the Rolling Stones (piano, organ, and French horn on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”)—as well as the raucously inept Rock Bottom Remainders, a gang of guitar-wielding authors whose ranks include Stephen King and Dave Barry. But what Kooper does best is celebrate himself, and he does so in grand Kooper style on Soul of a Man: Al Kooper Live. Recorded at the Bottom Line, the collection documents Kooper’s exquisite good timing, historic contributions, and skill as an arranger without ignoring the pomposity that makes him so maddening to listen to in big chunks. Slip these CDs one at a time onto a multidisk system, punch “shuffle,” and be rewarded.