Tag Archives: Dennis Coffey

Meanwhile, back at the blog …

Earlier this year, we shared an appreciation of four music greats who are still with us: Chuck Berry, Little RichardJerry Lee Lewis and Tina Turner. They’re my four. Yours may be different.

Yet that train keeps bearing down on us, taking Scotty Moore, Mack Rice, Bernie Worrell, Ralph Stanley, Wayne Jackson and Chips Moman this month alone. Since we last gathered here, Guy Clark, Candye Kane, Billy Paul, Lonnie Mack and Prince also have left the building.

In a year in which we have lost so many music legends, it seems wise to not stop at four. It also seems wise to not wait too long.

So here are four more music greats who are still with us, all of them still going strong. This is by no means the B team, or the second tier, or anything like that. Just four more worth appreciating here and now.

Mavis Staples, 76. The beloved gospel/soul/R&B singer released a wonderful new record, “Livin’ On A High Note,” in February. That same month, “Mavis,” a documentary profile, premiered on HBO. She’s playing gigs across North America through November, then will receive Kennedy Center Honors in December.

anti hot wacks

“Revolution,” Mavis Staples, from “Hot Wacks,” 2013, a compilation of artists on the Anti- label. A distinctive cover of the Beatles song from one who’s long sung about revolution.

Tom Jones, 76. Sir Tom is performing gigs across Europe this summer in support of “Long Lost Suitcase,” a roots record released last October as the final part of a trilogy that also includes “Praise & Blame” and “Spirit In The Room,” which came out in 2010 and 2012, respectively. “Long Lost Suitcase” also is the companion piece to his memoirs, “Over The Top And Back.” It’s been a tough year, though. His wife of 59 years, Linda, died in April.

tom jones this is tj lp

“Dance of Love,” Tom Jones, from “This is Tom Jones,” 1969. It’s a tune written and done first by Charlie Rich in 1965 on the Smash label.

Dennis Coffey, 75. This Funk Brother is still playing some mean rock and jazz guitar “in the D.” He tweets out his shows at @DennisCoffeyDET, announcing on relatively short notice that he’ll be at the Northern Lights Lounge — his most frequent Detroit gig — or at Motor City Wine, or at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. His blog is recommended reading. Coffey shares lots of good stories there. Likewise his discography for record collectors. His last record, the solid, self-titled “Dennis Coffey,” came out on Strut Records in 2011. It’s worth checking out.


“Never Can Say Goodbye,” Dennis Coffey, from “Goin’ For Myself,” 1972. A cover of the Jackson 5 tune on which Coffey demonstrates a little bit of soul, a little bit of funk and a bit more jazz.

Gladys Knight, 72. Another of the great ladies of soul, she’s playing gigs in Europe and the United States through October. A solo act for almost 30 years now, she hasn’t had the late-career success of her peers. Widely known today for lush ballads and inspirational songs, Gladys Knight belongs here because of her energetic performances with the Pips in the late ’60s and earliest ’70s on Motown’s Soul label. She really did get down to the real nitty gritty, kids.

gladys knight pips nitty gritty lp

“(I Know) I’m Losing You,” Gladys Knight and the Pips, from “Nitty Gritty,” 1969. When I heard this cut on Sirius XM not too long ago, I was reminded that this is one of my favorite LPs. And, yeah, that’s Dennis Coffey playing guitar on the “Nitty Gritty” single and his wah-wah, fuzz-toned lick about 11 seconds into the intro of “Friendship Train.”


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Filed under June 2016, Sounds

The 6-pack: Happy anniversary to us

When the last week of February rolls around, it’s time to celebrate at AM, Then FM. It dropped into the blogosphere six years ago this week, way back in 2007.

For the six of you who have remained regular readers all this time, thank you.

There are more than six of you, of course, but the glory days of music blogs seem to have come and gone.

Oliver Wang wrote about that the other day over at Soul Sides in response to a reader’s question. “Blogs … peaked in saturation about five years ago and have been on the wane since then.” It’s a drag to go through the bookmarks and see the blogs that have gone dark, especially in the last year or so.

However, a few of us keep on keepin’ on.

So we celebrate the beginning of our sixth year with a six-pack. Six songs by six artists from their sixth studio LP. The songs had to come from my records, and they had to be vinyl rips.


“Soolaimon,” Neil Diamond, from “Tap Root Manuscript,” 1970.

One of the first LPs I ever had. Also my introduction to world music. Also for my friend Glick, who has been digging music with me for 40 years.


“Molina,” Creedence Clearwater Revival, from “Pendulum,” 1970.

I once really dug the “Green River” and “Cosmo’s Factory” LPs. “Pendulum” not so much, but this is a good song. I like the sax. Creedence was one of my faves when I was in my teens and 20s, but I’ve found them almost unlistenable since John Fogerty released “Centerfield” in the mid-’80s. I didn’t like that record and it somehow soured me on Creedence.


“Back Stabbers,” the O’Jays, from “Back Stabbers,” 1972.

Those of us of a certain age are blessed to have grown up in a time when you heard elegant soul like this on the radio.


“I’ll Be Coming Home,” the J. Geils Band, from “Nightmares … And Other Tales From The Vinyl Jungle,” 1974.

Not long after starting this blog, I wrote a Complete Idiot’s Guide to the J. Geils Band for the blog that eventually became Popdose. I’m qualified because I have all 14 J. Geils Band LPs. Idiot completist. As I listened to all 14, this struck me as one of their best records. I almost picked “Gettin’ Out,” a keyboard-driven rave-up with a bunch of showy solos, but went instead with this slow groover. It has sort of a Latin beat and features Jay Geils on mandolin and Seth Justman on piano and that slinky organ.


“Theme From ‘Enter The Dragon’,” Dennis Coffey, from “Instant Coffey,” 1974. (The LP out of print but the song is available digitally.)

Detroit guitar legend Dennis Coffey is one of the artists I’ve rediscovered since starting this blog. I have a bunch of his records now.


“The Blacker The Berrie,” the Isley Brothers, from “The Brothers: Isley,” 1969. (The LP is out of print. The song isn’t available digitally that I can find.)

Likewise the Isleys, who I somehow knew almost nothing about before starting AM, Then FM. I have a bunch of their records now, too. This cut also is known as “Black Berries.”

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.


Filed under February 2013, Sounds

Waiting for Miss Millie

Dennis Coffey, the great Detroit soul and funk guitarist, will be out with a new record next month. I’m looking forward to hearing it, especially after listening to “Constellations: The A To Z of Dennis Coffey.”

This mix, assembled by Detroit DJ House Shoes, is a nice overview of Coffey’s work from his Funk Brothers session work to his ’70s solo prime to today, including some tunes that have sampled his riffs. I was pleasantly surprised to find I already have most of the songs in the mix, but some may be new to you.

(Tunes from Dennis Coffey’s upcoming record are in italics)

1. “Scorpio” intro – (featuring Dennis Coffey, Jazzy Jeff, Jake One and Q-Tip)
2. LL Cool J – “Jinglin’ Baby”
3. Dennis Coffey – “Main Theme from ‘Black Belt Jones'”
4. Dennis Coffey – “7th Galaxy”
5. Dennis Coffey – “Ride Sally Ride”
6. The Temptations – “Cloud Nine”
7. Rodriguez – “Sugar Man”
8. Marvin Gaye – “I Want You”
9. Dennis Coffey – “Garden Of The Moon”
10. The Spinners – “It’s A Shame”
11. Dennis Coffey – “Never Can Say Goodbye”
12. Dennis Coffey – “Whole Lotta Love”
13. Diamond D – “No Wonduh”
14. The Isley Brothers, Dennis Coffey and Lyman Woodward – “It’s Your Thing”
15. The Floaters – “Float On”
16. The Dramatics – “In The Rain”
17. The Dramatics – “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get”
18. Dennis Coffey featuring Mick Collins (Dirtbombs) and Rachel Nagy (Detroit Cobras) – “I Bet You”
19. Edwin Starr – “Easin’ In (Hell Up In Harlem)” / Digable Planets – “Nickel Bags”
20. The Temptations – “I Can’t Get Next To You”
21. The Undisputed Truth – “Smiling Faces Sometimes”
22. Dennis Coffey featuring Mayer Hawthorne – “All Your Goodies Are Gone”
23. Outro

As noted, House Shoes’ mix also includes bits of three cuts from the new record, “Dennis Coffey,” which comes out April 26 on Strut Records.

I’m especially looking forward to hearing “Miss Millie,” the cut on which Coffey is backed by Kings Go Forth, the great 10-piece soul group out of Milwaukee. Some Midwest heat, anyone?

Until then, enjoy some classic Dennis Coffey cuts not on this mix.

“Getting It On,” Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band, from “Evolution,” 1971. This funky cut led off the record everyone bought because the smash single “Scorpio” was on it.

“Taurus,” Dennis Coffey, from “Goin’ For Myself,” 1972. This was Coffey’s third single, and it did almost as well as “Scorpio.” Dig the drums and the horns.

“Theme From ‘Enter The Dragon’,” Dennis Coffey, from “Instant Coffey,” 1974. A high school friend said he played this constantly back then. It’s clear why.

All three LPs are out of print, but all three songs are available on “Absolutely The Best of Dennis Coffey,” a CD released last month.


Filed under March 2011

Going back to Detroit

You know we dig early Bob Seger here at AM, Then FM. He’s not the only Detroit rocker we dig.

Dennis Coffey was one of Detroit’s best session guitarists in the ’60s and early ’70s, one of the Funk Brothers.

I didn’t know that when I heard his smash instrumental single “Scorpio” in 1971. Back then, I never bought any of Coffey’s records. I can only plead the cluelessness of youth.

However, I snapped up “Evolution,” the 1971 LP with “Scorpio” on it, when I came across it earlier this year.

Tonight, “Evolution” is featured over at our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, which resurfaces at the end of every month, emerging from the haze of time, reviving an old late-night FM radio show on which one side of a new or classic album was played.

Here’s a little sample.

“Whole Lot Of Love,” Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band, from “Evolution,” 1971. It’s out of print.

Yes, this is a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” But dig the drum break and the laid-back funk starting at 1:19 and lasting until about 1:46.

Then head over to The Midnight Tracker for more from Side 1 of “Evolution.”

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Filed under November 2009, Sounds

Slogging, not blogging

If you’re wondering why you haven’t seen or heard much here lately, here’s the latest evidence:

Photo 115

Your correspondent is typing with only his left hand. He is not left-handed.

Nor is there a good story to go with it. Unless you are a passionate Green Bay Packers fan and are somehow warmed by the notion that the injury was sustained while pulling out old negatives of newspaper photos to be published in our new coffee-table book about your club.

When did this happen? Well, it might have been 1986, maybe 1987, maybe even 1988. That’s where I was in the files at the time.

My luck was better the other day over at Amazing Records, our local used vinyl emporium. No wrists were sprained in snagging the albums these tunes come from.


“The Letter,” Al Green, from “Green Is Blues,” 1969.


“Getting It On,” Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band, from “Evolution,” 1971.

Amazing records indeed. Both are out of print but can be found.

Also …

A side of Mother’s Finest featured this month on our other blog, The Midnight Tracker.

Three from the Mighty Clouds of Joy in our guest post over at The Vinyl District.


Filed under July 2009, Sounds