When last we left mild-mannered funk hero Don Covay, he was languishing in obscurity, off the charts himself but scoring some hits by writing songs for others. He had put out two great but poorly received blues-rock albums under the moniker Jefferson Lemon Blues Band and was scrambling to find a way to get a bonafide hit.
Being a great songwriter, everyone but Covay knew it was just a matter of time before he got back on the charts. Luckily, it happened with his first album back in a soul groove, which he had largely abandoned when he put out his blues rock experiments.
The album came out in 1973 and was called Superdude. It did wonders for Covay’s career. Not only did it give him three singles which hit high on the charts, but it gave him exposure again, exposure he so desperately needed to continue his side career writing hits for others. As so often happens in the pop and rock world, before artists will give you a chance to write and produce for them you have to score some hits for yourself first. Ask Barry Gibb from the BeeGees about all of his increased songwriting and production activity once those disco hits started coming. His career went into overdrive.
Not only did the album do well back then and revive Covay’s career, but it has stood the test of time by being a source of many samples for modern-day hits and being on so many beatheads’ “must-get” lists. Although it is out of print currently, it should only be a matter of time before this Holy Grail of funk is once again available to the general public. Why it hasn’t been reissued yet is a mystery to me.
While Covay has recorded sporadically since (his last album came out in 2002) Superdude has always been known as the nadir of Covay’s career as an artist in his own right. He continued to score a hit every so often with songs he wrote which other artists would cover but the hits from Superdude were to be the last ones he scored under his own name. The album cemented his place as a soul titan for evermore, though, and wherever people enjoy soul music you can bet someone’s stepping up to the mic and getting ready to sing one of Covay’s hits.
The next blog will feature a series of tributes to soul stars in which Covay figured heavily as both participant and honoree….
Who do you tribute?
The Music Nerd knows……