When you listen to a record after quite some time and you find yourself remembering all the lyrics by heart, this album was/is surely one of your favourite albums. And Drama According To Bernadette Cooper by - guess who - Bernadette Cooper is such an album for me. While the music itself may sound a little bit dated in 2006 this album is still burried somewhere deep inside my best of lists. Bernadette herself was never the best singer out there (well, compared to the Arethas, Sandra St. Victors, Carmen Lundys or even Whitney Houstons out there).
But that was never important even at the times when Bernadette was an integral part of Klymaxx, the all american girl group that pleased us with such funk corkers like Meeting In The Ladies Room, The Men all Pause, Divas Need Love Too, Sexy or Fashion. She made more than up for it with her attitude and originality. And let’s not forget she was one of the few women who produced a wide range of artists like Klymaxx, Mazarati, Madame X, Alisa Randolph, Nia Peebles or Altitude and even appeared on two Teena Marie albums (Crocodile Tears on Naked To The World and Sugar Shack on Ivory).
Her 1990 released masterpiece marked a highlight in her career and an at that time unusal creative freedom granted by a major label (MCA). Bernadette wrote, produced, co-executive produced, co-engineered, co-mixed, co-edited the whole album and even created the album concept with Glen Wexler. And if you have a closer look at the cover you see a woman in a straight jacket in front of a movie theatre showing her own flick Drama According To Bernadette Cooper. The whole CD booklet is made up as a movie with twelve short cuts split up in two acts. Fans of Bernadette already knew from her Klymaxx days that she was a little bit spaced out. Who else could sing Don’t slap me, ‘Cause I’m not in the mood and name her production company Slap Me One! Productions and get away with it? So the straight jacket on the album’s cover may be quite appropriate. Regarding the roles she plays on this album it is surely an apt clothing.
She’s the self-conscious woman in I Look Good (An Interview With Bernadette Cooper), the willing love slave in Stupid, who disconnects her telephone to hear no more lies about her lover and who gives everything to him although she’s not so sure about giving him his Aretha Franklin collection. She’s the woman from the agency (The Agency Sent Me), the down-to-earth woman who knows that love and sex are two different things and that bills have to be paid, so why not hook up with a millionaire from Textas (The Howard Hughes Sitcom [Christmas everyday!]) and she will work out a masterplan to get her former lover back (Nothin’ You Can Do). Back in the late 80s/early 90s Bernadette was really hot as in everybody liked to work with her. So she’s supported by a cast of thousands. There’s Loreena ‘Lungs’ Shelby, Pennye Ford, Alisa Randolph, Chuckii Booker, Thia Austin, Phineas Newborn III, Amp Fiddler, Teena Marie and John Patitucci to name but a few.
In my opinion this is still, sixteen years after its release, quite an amazing album especially if you listen closely to it to discover all the goodies Bernadette has put into it.
And what is she doing now? According to klymaxx.org she owns a vintage clothing store with clothes dating back to the 1900’s, that she also operates. And in 2006 Bernadette has finally reunited with Joyce ‘Fenderella’ Irby to record a new Klymaxx album, which should be finished in a few weeks.
Tracklisting of Drama According To Bernadette Cooper: 1. I Look Good (An Interview With Bernadette Cooper)/ Do You Really Know What Love Is/ 3. Stupid/ 4. The Underground/ 5. The Agency Sent Me/ 6. Let’s Be Discreet/ 7. Drama According To Bernadette Cooper/ 8. I’m That Girl/ 9. The Howard Hughes Sitcom/ 10. Straight Jacket (Love Affair)/ 11. Nothin’ You Can Do/ 12. Movie Produce Her | released 1990 MCA Records