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2 Jan 2017

Don Cooper “Bless The Children” 1970 US Country Psych Folk Rock

Don Cooper “Bless The Children” 1970 US Country Psych Folk Rock...recommended...!
A folk funk classic from Don Cooper – a folksy player at heart, but one who always manages to bring a gentle groove to his music! The set’s got a spare sound that’s totally great – vocals and guitar from Don, plus second guitar from Elliot Randall – and support from other light instrumentation on flute and violin, used in ways to bring a lyrical sweetness to the tunes that we really love – not exactly in Nick Drake territory, but a similar sort of sweetening! Rhythms are often more heavy on the acoustic basslines than the drums, which gives them a bottom-up sort of groove – warm and mellow, but with wonderfully funky moments. Titles include “Bless The Children”, “Mad George”, “Tell Me About Her”, “Willy Jean”, “Sad-Eyed Queen Of The Mountain”, “Brotherlove”, “A New Gun”, “Only A Dream”, and “Tin Cans & Alleyways”. © 1996-2017, Dusty Groove, Inc……… 

Don Cooper childhood played ukulele and since school years participated in different groups, playing mostly country music, as well as songs of Buddy Holly and James Brown . The turning point in the life of Cooper came with the release of the album of Bob Dylan’s Freewheelin of The ’ (1963), who brought Dylan national love and reverence all over the country. Dylan’s merit was to bring poetry to a popular song, and most importantly thin personal experiences. It was a revolutionary moment for pop music, many singer-songwriters, thanks to Dylan realized that is possible to be very frank in his songs and affect the delicate strings of the soul. 

Don Cooper then performed regularly in local kofehause, and his program was part of her, and partly because the songs of Bob Dylan . By the end of 1960 - the beginning of the 1970s boom of art song. It was a time-songwriters popularity usually under a guitar such as Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and others. In light of this fashion songs of Don Taylor’s interested in just three record companies, and he did, as it is now often write the wrong choice by signing a contract with Roulette Records. 

Head and owner of Roulette Records was Morris Levy - a man who was called “Octopus” of the music business, and indeed his greedy tentacles stretched in many areas, a disproportionate amount of its companies. At the peak of its business Levy owned more than 90 companies with a total employment of 900 people. These companies controlled the production and sale of records at all stages: from the search for artists and to enter into contracts with them to the punching plate and sales in own retail stores. 

Levy and his Roulette Records succeeded since the late 1950s, at the expense of black artists, mostly jazz, which at that time engaged in disdain for racist reasons, major US record companies. Levi made millions of dollars, putting it in his pocket copyrights blacks who are not familiar with the legal intricacies of their contracts. In addition, in his conscience was a lot of frankly criminal dealings, and by the end of the life of the FBI charged him with racketeering and ties to organized crime, so that he died in 1990, two months prior to the execution of his prison sentence. 

All this, unfortunately, we have to mention, when it comes to artists such as Don Cooper stranded at the wrong time in the wrong place. Sign the contract with Reprise he or Columbia Records, and the singer could have waited another fate, and his talent would not be in such oblivion. Roulette Records released mainly jazz, where the main actor of them was Count Basie and his orchestra and pop music in the face of Tommy James and the Shondells. In an attempt to ride the fashion, but more subtle intellectually for art song, Roulette Records not put due effort for the promotion of the same Don Cooper. 

The company was strong in promoting mostly singles, because Morris Levy was caught wide network jukebox - automatic playback on plates in restaurants and eateries. Creativity Don Cooper apparently did not fit into this sorokopyatochnuyu culture, targeted at teenagers. The singer had undoubted talent as a writer of intelligent and interesting songs that are able to submit a strong and rich timbre of his voice. All their albums on Roulette he produced independently. His record a success in the jukebox unless cafe at campuses. 

Initially career Don Cooper was rather favorable. He performed the opening act for such values of his time as a Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago in large halls, including Carnegie Hall. Cooper had to speak in front of thousands of people, with whom the singer is easily found contact. But his records sold very poorly, largely due to the above reasons. 

After four albums, interesting in terms of creativity, but it is unsuccessful in the commercial, and the Cooper Roulette Records found themselves in an uncomfortable situation for both. Predatory Levi contract expected by the artist 10 albums - a serious figure, even for commercially successful artists. At the same time, on the basis of sales of the first four records, to continue cooperation was meaningless for both sides. In the mid-1970s, Cooper and Roulette parted from each other. By the time the wave of interest in the author’s song has long subsided. The remains of his unsold albums notched markdown envelopes put in the basket Discounted items. Sam Cooper, too, was disappointed in this genre and successfully switched to writing songs and plates for children. 


Although we are all the time talking about the author’s song, recording Cooper does not like the fact that we have from the Soviet era called CSR or bard. Don was not limited to his voice and guitar, he was able to bring in their albums of talented arrangers and musicians, supplement and develop his musical ideas. The Children of The Bless - the clearest example of this. The album was arranged by William Motsing, composer and arranger of music for the cinema. On the bass played by Terry Plumer, who later became a famous American composer (both classical and movie), conductor and producer. 

On the second guitar on the album Bless The Children playing American guitarist Elliott Randall, famed for his solo in the song group Steely by Dan - “Reelin ‘in the Years” . Jimmy Page solo called it his favorite guitar solo of all time. Randall Guitar game in this album is not so bright, but it is different, as the work of any fine professional care and diligence does not protrude. 

A much greater role than the guitar in the album Bless The Children playing psychedelic violin by the famous American violinist whose name speaks of Russian origin - Bobby Notkoff. He became famous in 1967 with his play on electroviolin an album-band soundtrack of The Electric’s This Flag - the Trip of The . The violin was actually plain, but with Gerry pickup - small mikrofonchik, which is ideal for this purpose. 

Electroviolin sounded quite exotic for 1967 and Notkoff quickly attracted the attention of many artists, becoming widely sought-after studio musician, to leave a trace of his violin on different albums of psychedelic era. Since 1968, Bobby Notkoff played psychedelic folk group of The Rockets , to leave behind a single (self-titled) album in 1968, and renamed the famous Crazy Horse Neil Young as a vocalist. 

In addition to those listed in the credits of the musicians on the album Bless The Children has worked many others whose names are unfortunately not mentioned, but whose game has made a great contribution to the general mood of the album. For example, the strings attached to some things a little chamber, classical character, while the wind and piano carry a jazz tones. Important role played by purely blues harmonica, apparently by itself Cooper (uncredited), in the tradition of bards, from Dylan. It is also worth noting unnamed drummer, creating excellent unobtrusive percussion in jazz manner. 

Musically, the song Bless The Children rely on traditional for American music - jazz, country and blues, but with small and exquisite arrangement acquire different shades of psychedelics to classic ballads. It is undoubted jewel for fans of this genre. …….. 

Don Cooper was a promising folk-style singer/songwriter who enjoyed some modest success – mostly on-stage – during the early '70s. Coming up as he did amid the singer/songwriter boom of the era – dominated by the likes of James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Loudon Wainwright III – he got lost in the shuffle, perhaps because he was signed to a label (Roulette) that was positioned badly, in terms of image and distribution, to break an artist working in his particular genre. 

Born in the mid-'40s, he grew up in various locales, his father’s work taking the family to numerous towns across the country throughout his childhood. Cooper began playing the ukulele (which was a big instrument among kids in the 1950s) in elementary school and was drawn to country music as he grew older. In high school during the early '60s, he played in various bands, with a repertory heavy on the work of James Brown, Buddy Holly, and the Beach Boys, all done country-style. 

The transforming moment of his life came when he first heard The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the 1963 album that established Dylan as a major songwriter and artist. By that time, Cooper was playing a regular gig at a local coffeehouse and began mixing his music and Dylan’s songs. By the end of the '60s, at just about the same time that James Taylor and Joni Mitchell were poised to emerge as major artists, Cooper found interest in his work from three different labels, and ended up going with Roulette Records, a company that was primarily associated with jazz (Count Basie, et al.) and pop/rock (Tommy James & the Shondells, et al.), founded and run by a totally disreputable figure named Morris Levy. 

In early 1970, just weeks after signing a contract, his self-titled debut album was released. Cooper proved himself strong singer, with a rich and powerful voice, and also a serious and dauntingly talented songwriter on this and on his subsequent three Roulette albums, which he produced himself. He was good enough to rate support spots on-stage with the likes of Blood, Sweat & Tears (in their peak years) and Chicago at major venues, including Carnegie Hall. He was, thus, able to reach thousands of people at a time at some of his bigger support gigs. 

What he wasn’t getting, however, were major record sales – not that Roulette was putting much into marketing his albums, either. Put simply, he was probably the right artist at the wrong label. Apart from its unique jazz roster of the late '50s and early '60s (a point when Levy, with deep pockets and personally being a big jazz enthusiast, was able to pick up a lot of artists being dropped or overlooked by the major labels), Roulette’s big strength had always been at breaking big singles, mostly by virtue of Levy’s mob connections and his “unique” access to the jukebox business. 

But the music industry was different by the 1970s, and on top of that, Don Cooper wasn’t aiming at listeners who did much with jukeboxes – he was recording songs that were going to get placed in or played on a lot of them (at least, not outside of a few college-town pizzarias). In short, he wasn’t Tommy James and wasn’t writing “Mony Mony,” much less recording it. On Reprise or Columbia, he’d have had a good shot, but Roulette wasn’t really the place for an artist like him, anymore than it would have been for Leonard Cohen or Livingston Taylor. 

At some point both parties took a look at the contract that linked them together and recognized a losing proposition for both sides. Cooper was obligated to deliver ten LPs to Roulette, a daunting number for any artist, and Roulette could see little profit in continuing to record him much past 1972 and his fourth album. The two parties went their separate ways in the mid-'70s, and Cooper’s four LPs were consigned by the thousands to the cut-out bins. 

For his part, Cooper eventually gave up the life of a touring and performing artist, in favor of making records of children’s songs, a goal that came to fruition in that peculiar niche market – which drew upon his folk and popular music backgrounds equally – during the 1990s, with help from Random House. In 2005, Europe’s Delay Records released a 15-song compilation CD of Cooper’s work under license from EMI (which owns the Roulette library for Europe), entitled Howlin’ at the Moon. The singing is great and even the production is worth hearing. 
by Bruce Eder………… 

*Don Cooper - Vocals, Guitar 
*Elliott Randall - Guitar 
*Terry Plumeri - Bass 
*Bobby Notkoff - Fiddle 

01. Mad George (2.40) 
02. Sad-eyed Queen Of The Mountains (3.37) 
03. Tell Me About Her (3.06) 
04. Willy Jean (3.48) 
05. Bless The Children (4.05) 
06. Something In The Way She Moves (3.21) 
07. Tin Cans And Alleyways (2.46) 
08. Only A Dream (3.26) 
09. Rapid Rainbow Times (2.26) 

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