It seems like Don Covay had his fingers in just about every piece of R&B pie baked from the 1950s to the 1970s. His contributions were significant in the development of the r&b-pop dance craze of the early 1960s (with his "Pony Time") and Southern soul (with Stax as well as Aretha Franklin). He also dabbled in acid-hippie album-oriented soul-blues-rock of the late 1960s, raw funk, 1970s slow jams, and even Philly disco-soul. When he wasn't busy recording himself, he was writing songs that would be classics for others.
I can't say it would be hard to imagine soul music without Don Covay. No. It would be IMPOSSIBLE to imagine soul music without Don Covay. And with his passing over the weekend, sadly we've lost one of the very roots of this music.
He had a song called "Iron Out the Rough Spots" but luckily with few exceptions, Covay laid the gritty, raw quality of his voice out on the table for all to hear. He balanced the ruggedness with a unique, delicate vulnerability in his performances. I guess you could say Don Covay's jagged edges were often draped in satin. Those who would try to imitate him (Mick Jagger, eh hem) would not be able to capture the nuances of the Covay delivery. He was one-of-a-kind.
Today's selection of the day is by The Soul Clan, a soul supergroup initiated by Covay (the name being a political, Black Power jab at the KKK). This group was supposed to include Otis Redding, but unfortunately he died before they made it to the studio. Otis was replaced by Ben E. King who was joined by Joe Tex, Solomon Burke, Arthur Conely, and of course Don Covay. This song was written by Covay with another recently departed soul legend, Bobby Womack. Now that I'm listening to it again, I can definitely hear an echo of this record in D'Angelo's "How Does It Feel". What do you think?
Bobby "Blue" Bland was born on this day 85 years ago in Barretville, TN. Though he never achieved much success on the pop charts, Bobby Bland was a GIANT in the blues/soul world. He is perhaps one of the most influential and imitated vocalists of the genres and certainly is credited with launching the genre of soul-blues.
To soul dance party goers he's best known for the famous Bobby Bland growl he unleashed as he roared through uptempo gospel-blues records like "Turn On Your Love Light" and "Don't Cry No More." However, Bland also could gently massage a lyric as masterfully as some of the greatest vocalists in American music history. And that's why today I'm featuring "Building A Fire With Rain," the absolutely gorgeous rumba-soul-blues B-Side of another great Bland tune "Poverty". The rumba rhythm is actually quite common in the blues and as I write this and think about some of my favorite records, I'm noticing that I tend to have an affinity for rumba blues.
But enough about me, let's talk about you and how much you're gonna love listening to this song today.
I have so deeply fallen in love with this record that I've begun to wonder if I'm crazy. Why do I think that? Because I don't understand why this record is only mentioned in passing whenever some soul nerd writes about Memphis deep soul belter Barbara Brown. So I have to wonder, do I just have bad taste or are other people just not paying attention? That's a rhetorical question. Don't feel compelled to answer that.
Maybe it gets overlooked because it's the flip side of Barbara's classic deep soul, slow burner "I Don't Want to Have to Wait." Who knows.
All I know is that this record moves me. I love Barbara's performance. I love the production. I love the arrangement. I love the concept. I love that it falls in the sisterhood of "listen here girls" songs. It perfectly captures the feeling of emptiness of the person left behind in a relationship.
All the more special was finding my copy in Barbara's home town of Memphis exactly one year ago. It really was my favorite recording at the time and there it was waiting for me to find on 45 in the heart of Memphis.
Take a listen.
DJ Action Slacks
I'm excited to highlight some of my favorite records in a variety of genres (soul, R&B, classic country, rockabilly, oldies, garage rock, etc). These won't all necessarily be "dance" records per se. They will all be records that I believe deserve a special listen. I simply love good music, rare or not. Hopefully you will spend some time here and love music right along with me! Lets give this a shot!