Michael Cooper
"This Heart Of Mine"
CD $17.98

Michael Cooper - Vocals, guitars, keyboards

With Guest Artists: Gerald McCauley, Ladawn Paris, Todd Brown, Howard Hewett, Val Watson, Double O, Mack-E
1. Lift Every Voice
2. Jermaine & Michaela Buggin'
3. It's Gonna Be Alright
4. Your Face (Listen)
5. This Heart Of Mine
6. Love Isn't Over
7. All I Wanna Do (Listen)
8. Lookin' For Another Pure Love
9. There's No Me (Listen)
10. Just Give Me Love
11. Montego Dream
12. Humpin' For Your Lovin'
13. 1-900-Next-2-Me
14. Falling Like The Rain
15. Too Tight (Latin Lover)
16. Break Me Off

Reading the word “owww” didn’t just send a jolt through you — did it? It probably doesn’t even bring a smile to your face. And, more than likely, it isn’t conjuring up special memories, you know, of you finally getting up the nerve to try out that latest dance at a basement party; singing along with your girlfriends — at the top of your lungs — on the way to the store to find that special outfit; or how about ultra-tight, lime green pants that were not only appropriate at the time, they were hip! But, hearing Michael Cooper snarl  “Owww!” “Owww!” Owww!” at the opening of This Heart Of Mine,” his latest CD from Major Hits/NCA Records, and instantly you’re there aren’t you? 

Is it 1972? When Michael Cooper and Louis McCall decided to build on the success they had with Project Soul in their small Northern California hometown of Vallejo, moved to Memphis, and soon formed the septet Con Funk Shun. Together the band had two Top 40 pop singles, “Ffun” and “Too Tight.” They soared to the R&B Top 5 with “Shake and Dance With Me” (1978), “Chase Me” (1979) and “Baby I’m Hooked (Right Into Your Love)” (1983). And, we know “Got To Be Enough” and “Love’s Train” have to top many of your personal lists.

Or, maybe you’re thinking 1988, when Warner Brothers gave the lead singer, guitarist, songwriter and his signature “owww” a solo deal. There, the hits kept coming: “Prove My Love,” “Dinner For Two,” “My baby’s House” and the pre-Babyface/Whitney Houston/ “Waiting To Exhale” smash, “Shoop Shoop.” But, come on now, you know it’s 2001. And believe it or not Michael Cooper continues to offer a mellifluous blend of the classic, gritty soul he brought to Con Funk Shun and his individual efforts, combined with the always-timeless tales of the heart.

On his first single, “Your Face” — a bright acoustic guitar-lit dedication to his children — Cooper testifies about the true beauty of love and relationships, including the one he has with his children. “They’re my inspiration. They keep me young.” Then he laughs and adds: “They keep me from making a fool of myself.” And, on “Looking For Another Pure Love,” the Stevie Wonder single Michael Cooper respectfully makes his own, “is basically a testimonial to a period in my life when I was probably most happiest,” the singer recalls. “I went to Memphis and [Wonder’s] Talking Book was one of those albums that was just larger than life back at the time. And my favorite cut was ‘Looking For Another Love.’ The way Stevie approached it, with the analog synthesizers and everything, was just amazing musically.”

The message is still relevant, he continues. “The same thing that applies today applied 20 years ago. And, that’s what I’m about: timelessness. My album is pretty much about the interaction between men and women. People can say, ‘Well that’s been done before.’ But that still matters! Everybody can still relate!

“I’m not out to try and see how different I can be. I have a pretty basic message: It’s about fun, love, hurt, pain and how we deal with it. I’ll leave the space shuttle and the ozone layer to the other folks. I’m love, peace, happiness and making love.” Like the titles “Break Me Off,” “Humpin’ 4 Your Love,” “All I Wanna Do” and the almost X-rated accompaniment to any steamy session, “1-900-Next2 Me” don’t say that clearly enough. But when asked what single really touches Michael Cooper, he quickly comes up with the piano-based, soon-to-be-standard, “There’s No Me.”

“I want you,” the chorus begins. “I need you. I love you. Can’t get enough of you baby. You’re my lover. You’re my friend. I can’t lie. You’re my everything girl…”

Of course as a once and forever member of Con Funk Shun — with whom he still performs some 70 to 80 shows a year —Michael Cooper thought it would be fun to reprise one of the act’s biggest crossover singles. But on “Too Tight (Latin Lover)” the hook is slower and silkier, with the Latin-rap twosome Triple C joining him in the aural party. “I am so proud of ‘Too Tight,’ the original, because it put us out there in the pop world with Kool & the Gang, the Commodores, Cameo and the Gap Band. And personally, I absolutely love that song.

“So, coming back to it wasn’t hard. This time though, I wanted to drive the point home of my Latin love, and the Jamaican culture. As I think ‘Humpin’ 4 Your Love,’ Just Give Me Love’ and ‘Montego Dreams’ do, without departing too much from what I’m about.

“Now understand, I have the utmost respect for the group that I came from and the sound that I came from, but I do re-invent myself. I do come correct. And I do come new. But, I will not sell out and disrespect the audience that’s been with me all along, like some mature artists. And, we are mature artists. We’re not from the ‘old school.’ Bottom line: We are from the school. We did what we did, but we still do what we do and we still do it — Well!”


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