e thought is was time to share some great news regarding the most recent saint benedict’s table CD recording, Music is Worthless by “Mike Koop’s Multitude of Sins.” When the album was released in November 2010 we decided to send it around to the local press to see if they might be open to giving it a review. The results were quite overwhelming, with nice reviews appearing in the Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg Sun, Uptown, and Christian Week (both the local and national editions). It has also created a bit of buzz in the world of bloggers and online music fans, which is fun.
- To hear a sample of “Music is Worthless,” just hit the arrow
So, here’s a bit of an overview of what the critics had to say. The Winnipeg Sun’s Darryl Sterdan gave the disc a solid four out of five stars, and wrote the following:
Over the decades, singer-guitarist Koop has done time with everyone from Bonaduces and Buick Six to Cheerleader and Kicker. Now he’s gone from playing the devil’s music (just kidding, Mike) to doing the Lord’s work, leading Sunday services at Saint Benedict’s table — which is where most of the songs on this solo album found their genesis. But this isn’t just Koop preaching to the choir; while many of these rootsy songs have a spiritual centre (and a few have gospel undertones), you don’t have to be saved to enjoy. The tongue-in-cheek alt-country title cut might be the best song Jeff Tweedy never wrote, while Dylan and Mike Ness covers fit seamlessly next to Koop’s breezy, acoustic-based originals. Heavenly stuff.
Winnipeg Free Press music writer Rob Williams was equally enthused about the project:
Mike Koop has been in numerous local bands over the years, ranging from folk-based outfits like Buick 6 to indie-rockers the Bonaduces and the Kicker. On his first solo album he delves into Americana, old-time rock n’ roll and gospel over the course of 11 tracks, mixing his original material with covers and new arrangements of traditional songs.
Koop and the Multitude of Sins, made up of Winnipeg scene veterans, channels John Mellencamp on the rootsy title track and the mellow Take It Down; heads to southern California for a twangy cover of Social Distortion’s Ball and Chain; revisits the laid-back vibe of the late 1970s on the poppy Save Me; reworks the gospel I Woke Up This Morning into a ’50s rock anthem; and digs deep on the soulful piano-based sing-along, If I Have No Love.
As he has throughout his two-decade career, Koop proves he is adept at any style of music he tries. Worthless? Hardly.
Uptown Magazine’s John Kendle, meanwhile, was most impressed by the cover versions included on Mike’s album, including the great version of Bob Dylan’s gospel tune, “Pressin’ On.”
The crazy-haired skinny guitarist from Buick Six, Cheerleader and The Bonaduces is all growed up now and has been leading the musical proceedings at St. Benedict’s Table since 2006. But Koop hasn’t left his musical chops behind, debuting as a solo artist here with a roots rock vibe that’s easy on the ear. No wonder, as the players in MOS include Chas Garinger, Rob Pachol and backing vocalist Allison Shevernoha. That said, the band’s at its best on cover and traditional material such as Social Distortion’s Ball & Chain, Dylan’s Pressing On and one traditional, I Woke Up This Morning.
- To hear a sample of “Pressin’ On,” just hit the arrow
But we’ve saved the most extensive review for last. In Christian Week, Aaron Epp offers up not only a nice overview of the disc but also a great little interview with Mike and an excerpt from a conversation with Steve Bell. You can read the full version of the interview on the Christian Week site, so here we’re offering just a taste of what Epp had to say.
[T]he song writing is strong, resulting in an impressive solo debut. The instrumentation and arrangements are more rock-oriented than one would find in a worship service, but they serve the songs well.
Allen Fehr’s Hammond B3 organ playing is a significant part of the album’s sound, as is the electric guitar playing of Winnipeg session veteran Rob Pachol.
Lyrically, Koop draws from his personal experiences as well as scripture. “If I Have No Love” adapts 1 Corinthians 13, and the title track’s refrain of “Music is worthless” echoes Ecclesiastes 1:2.
Koop says his decision to title the album “Music is Worthless” was part irony, but also a comment on how much people value music. Music is everywhere and is easily accessible, so perhaps people don’t value it enough. On the other hand, music can be an idol, and people can place too much value on it.
Koop sees making the very best music he can possibly make as an act of worship. Ultimately, he hopes the record inspires discussion.
It really is a solid record. If you’re in Winnipeg, you can purchase a copy of “Music is Worthless” at the church on Sunday nights, or at the Folk Festival Music Store, Into the Music, and Music Trader. If you’re looking to order it online, just hit contact us to send an order, and for a mere $20 we’ll mail it out to you. Of course, iTunes can supply it as well, but then you’ll want to get the lyrics as well.