Audio Remasterer: Simon Murphy .
Liner Note Author: Kingsley Abbott.
Roger James Cooke is better known as Roger Cook, the multi-faceted U.K. singer/songwriter who helped pen hit material for numerous pop acts in the 1960s and '70s, also achieving success as a half of David & Jonathan and part of Blue Mink. In 1970, in the midst of his most popular run with Blue Mink, he released this solo album under a slightly modified name. Although he composed most of the songs with his most celebrated writing partner, Roger Greenaway, it's kind of a wimpy affair. While influenced by the singer/songwriter and rock trends of the day (including a cover of the early Elton John song "Skyline Pigeon" and an unnecessary version of the Beatles' "Something"), it owes more, as much of Cook-Greenaway's output did, to slickly produced late-'60s British orchestral pop. Even when the lyrics are somewhat sad, there's a we'll-get-over-this optimism that can make it sappy. It's not without ambition: "Today I Killed a Man I Didn't Know" seems like a protest against the senselessness of wartime killing, if a mild one. "Is It You That Has the Power" comes off as something that might have been pitched to the just-post-Graham Nash Hollies. "Stop" has some gauche appeal as an edgy number with slight traces of Swinging London and cinematic action thrillers, and as Cook aptly notes in the liners, "was certainly one that could have been pitched to Tom Jones." But it's neither that good nor too typical of the somewhat dull approach on the record, which has nothing on the order of the memorable melodies of Cook-Greenaway's best hits, like Gene Pitney's "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart."
RPM does its usually stellar job with the packaging, however, adding historical liner notes and nine tracks from 1968-1971 singles. These include some items that outshine anything on the album proper, with "I'm Burning" recalling the melodrama of Gene Pitney, and the moody "Paper Chase" almost sounding like an English translation of a Françoise Hardy tune. If nothing else, Cook was certainly willing to try different things, the jaunty singalong rock of "People I've Gotta Dream" bringing Mungo Jerry to mind a bit, and "Jubilation" also showing a bit of the gospel-pop that was somewhat in vogue in the early '70s, and "If You Would Stay" unable to make up its mind whether to be glossy soul-pop or a delicate ballad. Other bonus selections are more in the comfortably mainstream pop mode that Cook-Greenaway (who wrote most of these singles) often mined. ~ Richie Unterberger