I dug this LP out the other day when mining for some new WW&W fodder and I'm sure glad I did. A few years back I stumbled upon this record, "The Ballad of C.P. Jones" his third LP I believe, at a Salvation Army and having no idea who Don Cooper was I was about to bypass it . . . but a quick glance at the back informed me that this apparent singer-strummer-songwriter was being backed up by the cream-of-the-crop of NY session players, such as Bernard "Pretty" Purdie and Paul Griffin, among others. I snatched it up and when I got home I fell in love with the standout track "Rhinestone in the Rough" because of its unusual combination of folky elements with an R&B backbone. You can really hear Purdie doing his thing on this track.
I kinda left it there and until a few days ago I had nothing to say about the rest of the album. I'm still "digesting" the other 11 tracks, but I can already say this guy is/was great! I think allmusic has it spot on with Don - had he been on another label, such as Columbia or Elektra, he could have been at least semi-big like a left-of-cheesy Gordon Lightfoot or inheritor of the Fred Neil crown. Sadly, he lingered on Roulette for four albums and nobody's heard much from him since then. I'm now on a mission to track down the other three LPs. It's always a tricky balance to have a really heart-felt song without letting the delivery and production sabotage it with schmaltz and Cooper pulls this off better than most.
Don Cooper - Howlin' at the Moon
Don Cooper - Rhinestone in the Rough
Perfectly, a search for Don Cooper took me to the blog Vinyl Treasures which has the other three Don Cooper albums available for download. I'm still working my way through the one I have, but so far it is an excellent disc without any weak songs.