With the arrival of the updated and expanded "Physical Graffiti" album in the latest and most extensive updating of the Led Zeppelin Archives, let's sample a bit of what has been unearthed so far. In reverse order...
I was once explaining a category of music in my library that I named Power Unfamiliar to someone predisposed to approach programming music primarily as a mathematics exercise. They could not understand placing more "value" on a song that was not "known" or even a "turntable hit." My argument remains that certain songs will always elicit a response or inquiry regardless of familiarity or prior success. None of these songs were ever "hits"... but have always resulted in phone calls, emails, etc.
Feeling a bit Prog Rockish tonight...
Don Covay, the immensely talented singer and songwriter whose music was a staple on the R&B charts for much of the 60s and 70s, has reportedly died at age 76. Born in 1938 in Orangeburg, South Carolina as Donald Randolph, he was the son of a Baptist preacher. Covay sang Gospel music after the family moved to Washington D.C. following his father’s death.
In the late 50s, Covay began singing R&B music with a group called The Rainbows, before he joined the Little Richard Revue. Little Richard produced Covay’s early work, including several middling charters. Covay wrote the song “Pony Time” and recorded it, but it was a later version by Chubby Checker that shot to #1. The success of that song opened up plenty of songwriting opportunities for Covay, who wrote hits for Solomon Burke ("I'm Hanging Up My Heart for You"), Gladys Knight & The Pips ("Letter Full of Tears"), Aretha Franklin (“Chain of Fools”) and more.
Covay's singing career continued to falter until 1964, when he signed to the Rosemart label. His debut single there "Mercy Mercy" (accompanied by a young Jimi Hendrix on guitar), established his earthy bluesy style. Atlantic bought his contract, but, while several R&B hits followed, it was a year before Covay returned to the pop chart. "See Saw", co-written with Steve Cropper and recorded at Stax, paved the way for more hits.
Covay continued to record until the end of the 20th Century. Over the past few years age and illness had slowed him down.
While not a household name, Don Covay certainly had a major impact on R&B music of the second half of the 20th Century, and both his recordings and compositions will continue to please music fans for years to come.
Skipped the first month of the year as far as posting goes but the listening has been non-stop. Let's begin with a massive post of recent stuff. Pitchers and Catchers report in 17 DAYS!!!!
There are two things I immediately think of whenever I hear Joe Cocker and neither has a thing to do with his talent or musical legacy. First I think of my late Uncle, Harold Winters. My favorite Uncle. He gave me "Here's Little Richard" when I was about 6 years old and if that wasn't enough, it was Uncle Harold around that same time that turned me on to "Valerie" by Jackie & The Starlights. Uncle Harold loved Joe Cocker and when he got older he even resembled him a bit. Secondly, I think of becoming a father for the first and only time. My wife and I always knew when our baby would need to be changed because when a "number 2" was brewing she would go through a remarkable silent impression of Joe Cocker's trademark delivery. One of us would smile and say, "That is so adorable she's doing a Cocker, isn't it your turn?"
I've long felt that Joe Cocker hasn't ever truly gotten his due. There's been no Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction and since he didn't write his own material he is not often mentioned as an influence as music has marched forward. However, if you are from my generation it would not be a stretch to consider Joe a very important influence, and perhaps one of the finest song and songwriter "filters" of his time. For example, it was his version of "Bird On A Wire" that turned me on to Leonard Cohen all those years ago.
I've always loved what Joe Cocker did to a song. He didn't just sing it or deliver it, he wore it. He became the lyric and crawled up inside the melody, throwing it back at us with his soul and passion and love. He carried me away many times over the years and from all reports was always a hell of a nice guy. When this sad news broke today it came to mind that perhaps his friend and Mad Dog Alum Bobby Keys needed a front man for this year's Christmas Show at that huge afterparty in the sky. Yeah... that's it. With Mac settling behind the keyboards.