MIKE COOPER - DISTANT SONGS OF MADMEN
To kick off 2012, we're very pleased to publish this wonderful live edition from Mike Cooper which officially kicks his 70th anniversary celebrations - happy birthday! Mike Cooper has been a central figure in UK folk, blues, improvisation and about as many other movements as you care to mention - he's truly post-everything and we're very pleased to present this edition. Mike had this to say:
"This is a recording of a live concert recorded in Palermo/Sicily in June 2011. It preceded a set by my avant blues trio Truth In The Abstract Blues invited to Palermo by Lelio Giannetto to play a concert with Eugene Chadbourne and then, the following evening, our own set. Lellio asked me if I would play an 'acoustic folk set'. This was as near as I could get fulfilling his request. Some arrangements of some of my favourite songs and some original songs with extended improvised intermezzi.
The choice of songs is, as always, with a view to being entertaining, poetic, political and provocative. The title of the c.d. is from a Sam Shepard book of the same name. A part of my musical activity is scoring soundtracks for live performance with silent films. Van Dyke Parks song 'Movies Is Magic' written for Brian Wilson to sing on the Orange Crate Art record is a song about drive-in cinemas. Spirit Song is an original composition and refers to the West Papua Independence movement. They say their leader can 'walk on the leaves of trees' - ie move great distances at very high speed. Magic? Practically every African musician I ever interviewed for fROOTS magazine told me their favorite singer was Jim Reeves. Someone recently told me he sang in Afrikaans. I dont know if he did a version of He'll Have To Go in that language. Woody Guthrie's classic 'border' song Plane Wreck At Los Gatos still rings true - maybe even more so on a global scale these days. Approaching Zero is a song of mine - part of a suite of songs with lyrics culled from Thomas Pynchon cut up Brion Gysin/William Boroughs style. The complete suite is on my Blue Guitar c.d. Fred Neil wrote Dolphins and Tim Buckley did the version I remember best. I met Tim on the steps of Les Cousins Folk club in London in 1968 and refused to believe it was him. I am a lover of beaches, oceans and islands. Do You Want My Job? The instrumental interludes are all free improvisations, in the manner of all 'living' folk traditions, as are the backing for the songs for the most part. All my electronic parts are constructed as I play from live sampling of my acoustic guitar. Nothing pre-pepared or pre-recorded.
I find most 'folk' singers, folk clubs and festivals are incredibly conservative these days and my wish is that a niche might be found in there for some forward musical movement and thinking to bring itself into the 21st century and that this c.d. might be a small contribution toward that end."