After beginning his career by building elaborate photography sets and lighting setups in his living room, Clay Cook now shoots fashion and editorial spreads all around the world. Contrary to most photographers, Clay learned to shoot his first images using only artificial light and only later incorporated natural light into his work. This has given him a broad understanding of how to shape the lighting from any scene into a beautiful image.
Except for one other recording, tenor saxophonist Junior Cook's two Muse albums were his only opportunities to lead his own record dates during the 1962-1987 period. 1979's Good Cookin' (played by a septet including trombonist Slide Hampton, trumpeter Bill Hardman, baritonist Mario Rivera, pianist Albert Dailey, bassist Walter Booker, and drummer Leroy Williams) and 1981's Somethin's Cookin' (a high-quality quartet showcase for Cook with pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Buster Williams, and drummer Billy Higgins) are reissued in full on this single CD, except for four alternate takes from the latter date that were included on Muse's original CD reissue.
It's obvious from the greasy opening blues vibe in "Exodus of Venus," the title track of Elizabeth Cook's first album in six years, that something is very different. Produced by guitarist Dexter Green, this set is heavier, darker, and harder than anything she's released before. Its 11 songs are performed by a crack band that includes bassist Willie Weeks, drummer Matt Chamberlain, keyboardist Ralph Lofton, and lap steel guitarist Jesse Aycock. The tunes are drenched in swampy electric blues, psychedelic Americana, gritty R&B, and post-outlaw country. Cook has been tried by fire these past few years. She's endured six deaths – including her parents – a divorce, a stint in rehab, and more. It slowed her writing to a crawl. Exodus of Venus is her way of telling that story, and as such, its songs often stray from the narrative storyteller's manner she's previously employed in favor of a more jarring poetic style that still communicates directly.