2008: White Chocolate Released

White Chocolate

Well I'm back again after a long wait. Hope everyone had a great Xmas Holiday and Spring Break! The updated, republished "BACKSTAGE PASSES & BACKSTABBING BASTARDS" is now officially released. It should be for sale by the time you read this.

"WHITE CHOCOLATE" is finally completely finished ! Here is the final track layout and sequencing:
1. STAXABILITY (Kooper) 2. YOU NEVER KNOW TIL YA GET THERE (Kooper) 3. YOU MAKE ME FEEL SO GOOD ALL OVER (Goffin-Kooper) 4. I LOVE YOU MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY (Jones-Bell) 5. CALLING YOU (Telson) 6. LOVETIME (Kooper) 7.IT TAKES A LOT TO LAUGH IT TAKES A TRAIN TO CRY (Dylan) 8. I CRIED SO HARD (Kooper) 9. NO 1 2 CALL ME BABY (Goffin-Kooper) 10. CAST THE FIRST STONE (Kooper) 11. HOLD ON (Jones-Ingram) 12. SUSAN (Bliffert) 13. CANDY MAN (Neil-Ross) 14. I (WHO HAVE NOTHING) (Leiber-Stoller) 15. (I DON'T KNOW WHEN BUT) I KNOW THAT I'LL BE THERE SOON (Kooper)

The cover tunes are : I LOVE YOU MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY - originally recorded as a ballad by Otis Redding buried in an album. Written by Booker T & William Bell, I rearranged it as a Stax mid-tempo groove, the way Otis might've done it if he hadn't chosen the ballad format. CALLING YOU - First recorded by Jevetta Steele and featured magnificently in the film â€Baghdad Cafe". There have been many, many covers of this, most prominently by Jeff Buckley. I found a new way to do it - sort of an Al Green arrangement of a great song. IT TAKES A LOT TO LAUGH, IT TAKES A TRAIN TO CRY - This would be the third recording of this song I have been involved with - Dylan's version on Highway 61 Revisited, The Super Session up-tempo version, and now this slower one. I tried to blend in the musical progression guitarist Bruce Langhorne played behind Dylan on â€Corinna, Corrina"and mix it into this song. The instrumental goes to another key and tries to conjure up a 1940's blues feel with six horns blaring out an FDR groove. I think you'll like it. HOLD ON - A gospel song with music by the great Quincy Jones. It features a verse sung by my dear friend and constant backup vocalist Catherine Russell. How could I resist ??? SUSAN - This was a song I heard over thirty years ago when I was producing the great singer-songwriter Freddie Henry's (real name Fred Bliffert) album "Get It Out In The Open" - a collector's item today. Fred had recorded it when he was in the group Jelly on Elektra Records. I Motown-ized it and wrote a Jackson 5 arrangement just for fun. CANDY MAN - What a pleasure to finally cover a Fred Neil song. This is best known as the Roy Orbison cover back in the 60's. I figured I'm in MY 60's, so here's my cover; not THAT much like the Orbison or Neil versions. I WHO HAVBE NOTHING - I have always loved the Ben E King version of this great song and actually own the orginal Italian recording by Joe Sentieri. This is like the original version but with a techno feel rumbling underneath it.

In addition to the cover tunes, there are plenty of new Al songs to hear including two co-written by the great lyricist Gerry Goffin. STAXABILITY is a tribute song to the great Stax-Volt sound, born in Memphis. Backing me up on that one are Steve Cropper on guitar, Duck Dunn on bass, Anton Fig on drums and the Uptown Horns sitting in for the Memphis Horns. Also guesting on two other tracks are the rhythm section from the group Ollabelle: Tony Leone on drums and Byron Isaacs on bass. Most tracks I am backed up by my live band, The Funky Faculty. I am closing in on figuring out how to release White Chocolate and it should be on site in the next thirty days or so.

Had a great birthday party this year at BB Kings in NYC. My rockabilly trio, as well as The Rekooperators, The Funky Faculty and special guests Paul Shaffer and Dave Coffin all kicked in for a rocking one hundred and fifty minutes of great music for the new 64 year old. In the audience was former Rolling Stone honcho Andrew Loog Oldham, producer Russ Titelman, actor Peter Riegert, and everyone's hero producer/songwriter/arranger Jerry Ragavoy who wrote "Time Is On My Side" and "A Piece of My Heart" just to name a few. It was a night I shant forget for quite a few lifetimes.

My UK tour was cancelled quite early on by the promoter much to the chagrin of the band and I and my English fans who had bought tix in anticipation of seeing me play over there for the first time in 35 years. A noticeable lack of promotion and advertising (most fans found out about it from this website) caused low ticket sales in the first two weeks. In order to not pay us our deposit and to cancel upcoming advertising, they canceled as soon as we inquired about our deposit. This is a first for me in my 50th year of doing this. As I get older, it becomes more difficult to deal with the various amounts of pre-show shenanigans by promoters nowadays. I am trying to hang in there, but at the moment I'm on the downside.

Our Spanish tour is looking good for May 23rd to June 1st. Details on the website as soon as everything is finalized. We really wanna play EVERWHERE. If we don't get to where you are, it's not because we don't wanna be there. It's because nobody invited us there financially. I would LOVE to play Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, etc. but there are no invitations. So just know, we wanna be there as much as you want us there.

Ironically, I am off to the UK today to host the Zombies Reunion shows in Shepherds Bush March 7 - 9. Hope I can see some of you there at least.

Bye for now,