Surely one of America's premier soulsters and songwriters, Don Covay has enough real hits to be considered a heavyweight in the songwriting business. Songs like "Long Tall Shorty," "Chain of Fools," "Mercy Mercy," "Come Back & Take This Hurt Off Me" and "Three Time Loser" punctuate his career. On the cover testifying to the importance of Covay on their respective careers are Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Van Morrison, and Bonnie Raitt. Teamed with friend, songwriter, and producer of this disc, Jon Tiven, Covay has gathered a star-studded array of friends to help him with this now, well-regarded tribute to the songs and songwriter.
Helping out is the bare-bones support of Jon Tiven on guitar and organ; Jon's wife Sally Tiven on the bass; Paul Shaffer (Dave Letterman Show) on piano, organ, and synthesizer; and the rockin' Anton Fig on the drum kit. Guest instrumentalists are Simon Kirke on electric piano and Robert 'Butch' Johnson sharing the axe on "Victims"; Lee Konitz and his alto sax helping out on "Chill Factory"; Mason Casey on the harp for four tracks, Paul Brown adding his Hammond B-3 lines to "Chain Of Fools" and Kim Simmonds offering to lay out the guitar action on "Don Covay Boogie [Slight Reprise]." Background vocalists are Kirke, Casey, Ptah Brown, Audley Freed, Yuko Ichioka, Ellis Hooks, and Julia Schell.
Guest vocalists include soul partner Wilson Pickett singing "Nine Times A Man" and "Three Time Loser"; Huey Lewis and Frederick Knight teaming up on the newly composed "Red Comb Song"; Paul Rodgers putting his vocal touch to "Mercy Mercy"; Ann Peebles putting it on "Chain Of Fools," Syl Johnson chanting on "Victims," Otis Clay giving up the soul-packed voice on "He Don't Know," and Memphis songwriter Dan Penn with Shaffer adding a spoken intro to "Hall Of Fame."
Few albums can boast such an illustrious crew or such an impressive song list. Even the newer tunes co-written with the likes of both Tivens, Spooner Oldham, Pickett, and Ronnie Miler shine like new stars in Covay's firmament. Covay's legendary presence on the songwriting front continues as he strikes out on the way to mining more gold and/or platinum. Catch Don's contemporary adlibs, his carved accultured vocal character, and his near-godly writing abilities. His friends and band members surely also contribute to the talent pool on this release. Deep soul, rockin' renditions, and more involved compositions mark this obvious tribute compilation.
Cannonball Records; 1660 Lake Drive West; Chanhassen, MN 55317:
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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