New Jeff Cook Album Not Alabama

| 5/5/2009 4:27:00 PM

A photo of the author, Caleb ReganI consider myself an Alabama fan, so I was pretty excited when a press release from Absolute Publicity arrived in my mailbox, describing a new album recently released by artist Jeff Cook, a founding member of Alabama. As a youngster, I have distinct memories of Alabama songs (“Thistlehair the Christmas Bear”), blasting through the speakers that were hooked up to the record player at our farmhouse during Christmastime or housecleaning time. My mom loved Alabama, and still does to this day. They were an iconic country music band that helped diversify the genre until their farewell tour in 2003.

My own Alabama favorites include “Dixieland Delight,” “Mountain Music” and “Song of the South.” But, when the release arrived, I was unfamiliar with Jeff Cook and his contributions to a group that I’ve known and liked since childhood. On an Alabama website, I read that Cook was the lead guitarist and fiddler for the group. I was excited, since through the years I’ve been known to dance, and occasionally stomp, to the sound of that fiddle.

Ashes Won't Burn by Jeff Cook and the Allstar Goodtime BandBut you must remember when listening to Ashes Won’t Burn by Jeff Cook and the Allstar Goodtime Band, this isn’t Alabama, and you can’t judge it as such. It is more electric guitar and less fiddle, which to me was what Alabama was about.

Most of the songs, I believe all except “Mist of Desire” and “Kissing a Fool,” performed by Cook, are cover songs. I really enjoyed Cook’s cover of “I Feel Fine” (John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles). Other notable covers are Ronnie Farmer’s rendition of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (Bob Dylan), R.K. Brown’s interesting cover of “Brick House” (The Commodores) and Link Detten’s version of “All Right Now” (originally performed by Andy Fraser and Paul Rodgers, and later adopted by Queen). Most entertaining to me was Cook’s performance of “Monkey Around” (Delbert McClinton, Gary Nicholson and Benmont Tench III).

I say “Brick House” was interesting because, the same as the majority of people who seek out this album because of Cook, I think Alabama and I think country music. So I think of Cook as a country musician and turned this album on assuming I was in for a lot of twang and a lot of fiddle. But just like Alabama, which constantly varied their approach and attracted fans from different ethnic backgrounds and musical tastes, Cook proves his expansive and diverse talent as a musician. Just don’t buy Ashes Won’t Burn because you want a second-coming of Alabama.

I’ll post an interview with Cook in the coming days.

Dennis Miller
5/27/2009 1:08:29 AM

Had a country band in Iceland when I was stationed there back in the 90's, I was the lone American in the group of Icelanders and we would start out the night with "She and I" as a warm up. Everyone would trickle on to the dance floor, start dancing, keep dancing, continue dancing, keep on dancing, and soon this 3 minute song would evolve into 10-15 minutes of improvising. I couldn't tell you how many Alabama songs we covered. Good article and good interview. Dennis Ofallon Illinois

Caleb Regan
5/15/2009 4:30:25 PM

Hey all - I interviewed Mr. Cook around 11 this morning (he was great), but unfortunately I didn't have time to transcribe the thing and get it up. We're awfully busy right now trying to put out another great magazine. Look for it Monday (May 18). Thanks for understanding.

Caleb Regan
5/14/2009 10:38:26 AM

I'll speak with Mr. Cook tomorrow (May 15) around noon and post it in the afternoon.

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