The Way It Used To Be by Patrick Cooper – reviewed by Chris Mann


Increasingly, it’s my custom to include a link to an artist’s website for biography and in the case of keyboardist Patrick Cooper, I’m happy to do that because it means I can get on and tell you about this very cool CD.

Now, to whet your appetite – because it sure has whet mine – here are the opening lines from the press release for this CD: “To Cooper, the halcyon days were the 1970’s. It was an experimental time as free-form jazz mingled with R&B, soul and funk”. Amen.

Let me tell you, on the opener ‘Struttn’ you will not want for funk. The driving bass and tight snare propel this chunky groove which supports a piano and alto sax doubled melody line. It’s infectious and must be great live – come to Manchester, brother! I’ve featured the dreamy ‘Come Sunday’ extensively on my Sunday playlist on Wild & Peaceful and I’ll continue with it because, to use, Marcus Johnson’s expression, it’s got the ‘neck factor’.

It’s no accident that I mention Marcus Johnson – not just because Cooper has shown himself to be a groove-master or because he’s active in the D.C./Baltimore area, but this last song features Three Keys alumnus David Dyson on bass. Now, how is that anything other than great news? ‘Next 2 U’ has shades of MJ, plus some of Bob Baldwin’s cheeky moves where the vocals double the piano line. The groove is deep here. Trust me, a rimshot and Tommy Tordsson’s solid bass are all it takes to hypnotise… The title track teases us with a bluesy guitar intro and before we know it, we’re into a bluesy, brassy shuffle. This has got to be another hand-clapping crowd-pleaser at live shows.

Right in the smooth R&B urban groove is ‘I’m that Man’, the album’s only vocal. It’s cute and sexy and it winds and grinds like the best of the genre. This should be all over music TV channels – is there a video? Ah yes, check this. This grabs you from the first listen and won’t let go. We’ve had funk, we’ve had R&B and now we have a jazzier voice for the piano on ‘Side Steppn’’, plus some nice old school synthesizer sounds to take you way back.

In the late 80’s when I was playing bass in London, I seriously got most of my jollies playing slow grooves like ‘Denise’. It’s harder for a drummer and bassist to keep time but, oh Lord, the effect when you get it right is electric! That’s just what happens here and the spaces in this song are so big you could dive into them – and you’ll want to. Bryan Mills’ sax pleads on the chorus, which is really Isley Brothers sexy. Yeah, you heard me – only Rudolph Isley on vocals could make this tune smoke more! It’ll be in your head all day and if you love this slow jam stuff like I do, you’ll be smiling. The squishy synth that opens ‘It’s OK to Move’ has a lovely analog sound (let’s call it ‘soul’) and the keys lock in with the fat kickdrum and muscular bass to get the neck moving and the fingers popping. It’s not funk – it’s FONK.

The only thing to do when this CD ends is press ‘play’ again and let the combination of the soulful, the groovy and the classy wash over you again. Patrick Cooper, in these eight original compositions, has taken the best of the 70’s soul and funk vibe and brought it bang up to date with a punchy and purposeful production. This is his second CD, so now I have to check out ‘Vibin’’ and wait patiently for the next (necks?) installment…




Depth in Sound Music  Producer – Patrick Cooper


Patrick’s website:

Buy the CD at Amazon UK