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MICHAEL COOPER: – Are We Cool
(US Thump, 2004)
Butter Luv - At The Club - Since I had You - Steppin' To A Love Song - Are We Cool - Remember L.O.V.E. - Marry Me Again - I Got A Love Jones - Waiting All Along - 40 Days 40 Nights - Club Feenz - Unchained My Heart - Summer In The Sun - The Grand Boos - The Miracle Of You

At the outset I will admit to being a HUGE fan of Michael Cooper, both as a solo artist and with Confunkshun so I do not doubt that to some degree there will be more than a modicum of bias here. Saying that, though, I do have to be open and say that I was very disappointed in there not being a killer ballad or two; something I can always rely on Michael to deliver. There is no "Over And Over", "Come To Me", "Your Face" or "All I Wanna Do" on here and for that I am truly disappointed.
We do have "Remember L.O.V.E" but although this is good, it does not come up to the usual mark. However, I am not always ballad-orientated and do love some good, old-fashioned toe tapping soulful club music and this is which makes this CD shine, shine and shine. In fact, some of this is going right back to the good old days of Confunkshun in the early 1980s. The vibe is summery, the flow perfect and I am always left feeling good after hearing this album.
I can see a very rosy and healthy future at Thump for some of our favourite artists. Jay King is an established and no-nonsense provider of quality material and the future careers of favourites such as Michael, LTD, The Emotions, Lenny Williams, Ready For The World and Art Madison are safe in his hands on Thump, via Universal. In fact, I think 2005 is shaping up to be another good year for us.
The happy, party tune "Butter Luv" opens up the songbook with much aplomb and is followed by an excellent reading of Marvin's "Since I Had You"; a song that I do not like being tampered with usually. This is well crafted and personalised as you can well imagine. Another toe-tapper, "Steppin' To A Love Song" thrills me as does the floating "Are We Cool". I imagine that many of you will be most attracted to the BRILLIANT "Marry Me Again" which is an ode to his good lady wife and an acknowledgement of a Lady's real worth. It's down to earth, it's real and mores the point something all us chaps can connect with. Simply magic, and Michael sounds great, as always. "40 Days And 40 Nights" is a very 'now' effort - the most "R&B" on the set, but as I am often saying this style becomes palatable to my taste when real, proper artists handle it well. The same song in the hands of someone less talented and experienced would have foam coming from my mouth!
The dancer I adore most is "Club Feenz" which is very Zapp-like. EZ Roc from The Bar Kays provides vocoder and is really spot-on! This is a sheer delight for me, and I am playing this a great deal. Michael really does put the fun into funk! Talking of funk, Confunkshun actually supply all the horns on "Unchained My Heart" and truly make this CD sparkle. Another fun, down to earth song is "Summer In The Sun". OK, possibly a bit cliché, but he has the scenario set out perfectly. I like the way Michael looks at life and how he puts it into words: "my whole family tree … stood right before me" … this shows a deeper and more heartfelt reasoning beyond the groove than many others. And more than this.
His final cut is very much a personal effort, but those of use with children can easily identify with the lyrics and sentiment of "The Miracle Of You". Being the old softy and loving dad (don't let the little rascals tell you otherwise!) I am then this reaches me in some places and is very touching. I very much love this CD, lack of ballads or not, and recommend it wholeheartedly. Owww!
- Barry Towler


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