Al Kooper's soulful stew of blues, gospel, rock, and jazz is as American as baseball--and every bit as ironic, allegorical, surprising, and downright fun. Though best known as a sideman (that's his trademark organ riff on Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone"), songwriter (Gary Lewis's "This Diamond Ring"), band founder (the Blues Project, Blood, Sweat & Tears), and producer (everyone from B.B. King to Joe Ely to Lynyrd Skynyrd), this revealing double-disc anthology explores Kooper's rich and diverse career as a performer. Rare
offers up demos, outtakes, and other rarities that wind from his first '60s single through three decades and a madly eclectic array of projects that include a down-tempo revisitation of Ann Peebles's "I Can't Stand the Rain," XTC's "Making Plans for Nigel" done as a 1900's English music-hall number (and rejected for a tribute album as too
obtuse!), a glorious, pioneering horn-band take on "Hey Jude," a soundtrack outtake from the Crime Story
TV series, and a couple of decades' worth of songs rife with his always unpredictable blues and pop instincts. Well Done
collects better-known solo tracks and recordings from Blood, Sweat & Tears, the bestselling Super Session
("Albert's Shuffle"), and the Blues Project. Veteran journalist Jaan Uhelszki's notes manage the not-inconsiderable feat of both concisely chronicling and underscoring the import of Kooper's largely unsung legacy. This is a multidisc anthology that not only lives up to the medium's usually unfulfilled potential, but may just leave you craving more. --Jerry McCulley
One of the great unsung heroes of rock 'n' roll finally gets his due with this 2-CD set, which takes you from his first single in '65 to new demos recorded for this release. His own versions of This Diamond Ring; Season of the Witch , and I Can't Quit Her (live) join 18 unissued tracks and a host of other gems from the Blues Project ( Flute Thing ), Blood Sweat & Tears and his work with Mike Bloomfield and others. A long-overdue look at a legendary career.