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Dennis Coffey: One Night at Morey's: 1968

C. Michael Bailey By

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And all of the sudden, Funk Brother guitarist Dennis Coffey is one hot cuppa joe. With the 2017 Resonance Records' release of Hot Coffey In The D—Burnin' At Morey Baker's Showplace Lounge we listeners have become reacquainted with the guitarist who seasoned such Detroit recordings as The Temptations' "Ball of Confusion" (Gordy, 1970); Edwin Starr's "War" (Gordy, 1970); Diana Ross and the Supremes' "Someday We'll be Together" (Motown, 1969). Hot Coffey In The D was recorded at the famous Detroit watering hole, Morey's, in 1968. That same year during his residency at Morey's, Coffey was recorded performing with his same band: organist Lyman Woodard and drummer Melvin Davis, breezing through a completely different repertoire. An embarrassment of riches by anyone's estimate. These recordings were culled from the personal tapes of Coffey and producer Mike Theodore, making one wonder if there is more of this (and other) music to be had.

While a certain psychedelic sound was making its way into all sorts of musical genre in the late 1960s, Coffey stayed relatively close to the bone. He played electric guitar unadorned with special effects with a razor-sharp funk edge as is heard on a lengthy consideration of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" on which Woodard gives a tightly constructed organ workout. Coffey's groove arsenal is powerful, enabling him to summon a rock element on "Cissy Strut" while eliciting a languid, downhome romp on The Rascal's "Groovin.'" The band gives another lengthy workout on Richard Evans' "Burning Spear" which features a tasty drum introduction by Davis. Coffey does fuzz things up on the Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing," which is coupled with Coffey's own "Union Station." Most interesting is the brief reading of Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce." This is a bit of amazing bebop at the close of the 1960s. Much comfort can be taken in the possibility that there is more, possibly much more, of this music out there, waiting to be heard.

Track Listing: I’m a Midnight Mover; Eleanor Rigby; Cissy Strut; Groovin’; Burning Spear; It’s Your Thing/Union Station; Mindbender; Big City Lights; Billie’s Bounce.

Personnel: Dennis Coffey: vocals and guitar; Lyman Woodard: Hammond B3; Melvin Davis: drums.

Title: One Night at Morey's: 1968 | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Omnivore Records

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