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DON COVAY & THE GOODTIMERS

THE FUNKY YO-YO ALBUM
In the analog days Don Covay`s 1977 album Funky Yo-Yo was rare and hard to find. And the original lp still is but nowadays there are several ways to obtain a re-issue.

The current rights holder seems to be the Unidisc label based in Canada. The company sells the album in digital and physical formats and also offers it on streaming services Spotify and YouTube Music.

The Unidisc release does sound like it probably used a tape source, unfortunately it has been heavily remastered and denoised and adds some light reverb for a more open sound. It also cuts the first 3 seconds of Yo-Yo (Part 1) and probably has been up to no good elsewhere on the record as well making the original lp release still the version to get.

The original album is titled Funky Yo Yo on the sleeve and Funky Yo-Yo (with a hyphen) on the labels. Versatile who released the lp was a short lived company only issuing records between 1977-1980. A test pressing of the original vinyl issue offered for sale on eBay in 2018 has the date "7-21-77" written on the label suggesting a late 1977 release.

Don Covay - Funky Yo Yo

The Lp cover lists Don Covay as writer, arranger & producer of all the songs. This seems to be accurate with the exception of "Three Time Loser" which, according to BMI.com, was co-composed with Ronald Miller. These are also the credits on the label of the original Wilson Pickett single issue, "Mustang Sally / Three Time Loser".

Steve Roby talked to Don Covay about the lp, in his book Black Gold Roby states that Covay "particularily remembered that Hendrix was involved in the track "Three Time Loser". There is however no other evidence for this and purely by listening to the album it`s hard to hear any definite Hendrix playing on it.

I haven`t however been able to find any firm information about the date, recording location or personnel for any of the tracks on the album so any involvement by Jimi Hendrix is still completely open to speculation.

The album seems to be a compilation of Covay´s self financed recording sessions and / or demo recordings. With the exception of "Three Time Loser" in 1977 all of the songs seem to have been unreleased, by Covay or any other artist. All of the tracks are also in mono which may be an indication of their age.

It took Don Covay 23 years to release his next album after Funky Yo-Yo came out.


THE TRACKS
The listing which follows includes what little background info I have been able to find and my personal impressions and speculation about the tracks. Please feel free to disagree and if anyone has anything to add please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

YO-YO (PART 1)
Composer: Don Covay
Recording date: circa 1967-1968
Vocals - Don Covay
Backing vocals - unknown
Guitar - unknown
Bass - unknown
Tambourine - unknown
Piano - unknown
Drums - unknown

Yo-Yo (Part 1) & (Part 2) sounds like a finished track and the fact that it`s split in two parts suggests that a master was prepared for a 7" single release. Don mentions "funky saturday night" five times which makes me suspect that it may have been the original or alternate title for this track. The lyrics mention "African Twist" and "Funky Broadway" which requires a small detour for background information:


African Twist
There were several singles released around this dance / theme in 1967-1968:


- Lonnie Youngblood
"African Twist - part 1 / African Twist - part 2" (Loma 2081) November 1967 6
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB1Fbr9Info
Written by Dory Jones. The "lyrics" mention "Ungawa" and "African Twist". The horn parts are in places quite similar to "Sweet Thang".

The song was copyrighted as follows: 2
Um Gawha African Twist; w & m Dory
Jones. 3p. C Bargyle Music, Inc.;
23Oct67; EU20981.


- Stacy Lane
"African Twist / I`m Out To Win You Over" (Excello Records 2293) February 1968 8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TnDFAIneqY
Written by Harris - Fuller - Wammock. The lyrics mention "Ungawa", "African Twist" and "Funky Broadway".


- The Mad Men
"Do The African Twist (Part 1) / Do The African Twist (Part 2)"
(Gamble Records G-212) December? 1967 9
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6sP1YadftY
Written by Edgehill - Sherill. The lyrics mention "African Twist" and "Funky Broadway".


- Eddie Palmieri & His Orchestra
"The African Twist / Ay Que Rico" (Tico T-512) March? 1968 7
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WxlvnXSYwE
Written by Cynthia Ellis. The lyrics mention "African Twist".


All these recordings titled "African Twist" are different songs by different composers. Pretty much the only thing they all have in common is being called "African Twist" and that the lyrics mention either "Ungawa" or "African Twist" or "Funky Broadway" - or all three.


Funky Broadway

"Funky Broadway" was first released by Dyke And The Blazers on the 45 "Funky Broadway Part I / Funky Broadway Part II" (ARTCO Records 45-101) in late 1966. The master was purchased by Original Sound circa December 1966 and re-issued as "Funky Broadway Part I / Funky Broadway Part II" (Original Sound OS-64) in December 1966. 5

The track was in 1967 also recorded by Wilson Pickett, Cash Box 22 July 1967 -issue reported:

"Rush Pickett´s ´Funky´
NEW YORK - In response to demand on the part of deejays, distributors, and dealers, Atlantic Records is rush-releasing a single of "Funky Broadway" from Wilson Pickett`s new album, "The Sound Of Wilson Pickett." Since the LP was released two weeks ago, calls have been coming in from deejays throughout the country demanding a single of "Funky Broadway" by Pickett. Over the past two months funky broadway has become a hot new dance in the tradition of the skate and the shingaling."

A news item in the 13 August 1967 -issue of Sioux City Journal:

Sun, Aug 13, 1967 – 21 · Sioux City Journal (Sioux City, Iowa) · Newspapers.com
So, since Covay`s "Yo-Yo" references both "African Twist" and "Funky Broadway", and hit-song-dance-fads passed fast it`s very likely that "Yo-Yo" dates from circa 1967-1968 and hence has no Hendrix involvement.

The spotlight on the bass player and the Cotillion Music publishing credit for "Yo-Yo (Part 1)" suggests it may have been recorded as an Atlantic single with a well known studio band but shelved. Curiously Part 2 (and the rest of the album) is published by Ragmop Music which suggests that "Yo-Yo (part 1)" may have been previously registered and / or released but I couldn`t find any trace of a release by any artist.


I DON`T THINK I CAN MAKE IT
Composer: Don Covay
Recording date: ?
Vocals - Don Covay
Acoustic guitar - unknown
Bass - unknown
Organ - unknown
Drums - unknown

Sounds like a studio demo recording / rough take with just a little bit of acoustic guitar audible, no electric guitar on this at all. Very unlikely to have any Hendrix involvement.


THREE TIME LOSER
Composer: Don Covay, Ronald Miller
Recording date: circa 1966?
Vocals - Don Covay
Guitar 1 (rhythm guitar and guitar solo) - Ronald Miller?
Guitar 2 (rhythm guitar) - Jimi Hendrix?
Bass - unknown
Piano - unknown
Drums - unknown

"Three Time Loser" was copyrighted in December 1966: 4

THREE-TIME LOSER; w & m Don Covay &
Ronald Miller. 1 p. © Pronto
Music, Inc.; 7Dec66; EU969624.

On the lp "Three Time Loser" and the following track "An Ugly Woman (Is Twice As Sweet)" sound like they could originate from the same session, the audio quality and ambience is near identical.

"Three Time Loser" was released by Wilson Pickett on the single "Mustang Sally / Three Time Loser" (Atlantic 45-2365) in November 1966 1 The Don Covay version is a finished studio recording of the song cut with a full band. If it was done before November 1966 then this track and "An Ugly Woman (Is Twice As Sweet)" would be two possible candidates for Hendrix participation.

Don Covay told Steven Roby that Hendrix plays on "Three Time Loser". Name checking the only track on the lp that sounds like it might have Hendrix playing on it does give the claim some credibility. In my opinion Covay is unlikely to have spend days figuring out which tracks on his records he could believably claim to have Hendrix playing on them, so the comment is likely to have been based on memory - which of course still doesn`t make it true.

There are two guitar players on the track, to my ears the player who does NOT play the solo at places does sound like it could be Jimi. I`m giving it a strong "maybe" for now. The other guitar player might be Ronald Miller since he co-composed the song.

This song is the only track on the album with two electric guitar parts. And, since the song was copyrighted in December 1966, after Wilson Pickett released his version in November, Covay`s version may have been a publishing demo which may have been recorded months, maybe years before Pickett recorded his version. Which might make it fit the right timeframe for Hendrix participation.

But on the other hand Covay may also just have recorded his own version after the Wilson Pickett single came out - we have no actual recording date for this track.

The Wilson Pickett version was recorded 13-14 October 1966 at Fame Recording Studios, Muscle Shoals. 10 Neither Jimi (who by this time had moved to the UK) nor Don Covay was present. But if Covay´s (demo?) version of the song was recorded before Wilson Pickett cut his version then Jimi would, in theory, just about had time to participate in such a recording since he flew to London on the 23rd of September 1966. Again, this in no way proves that Jimi plays on Don Covay`s "Three Time Loser", it just confirms that he probably would have been around in NYC and thus able to participate.


AN UGLY WOMAN (IS TWICE AS SWEET)
Composer: Don Covay
Recording date: circa 1966?
Vocals - Don Covay
Guitar - unknown
Bass - unknown
Drums - unknown

BMI lists this song as "Ugly Woman (Is Twice As Sweet)". This track sounds like it might originate from the same session as "Three Time Loser" so might date from circa 1966. Might be a studio demo or a finished master intentionally left a bit rough around the edges. The guitar playing does not sound at all like Jimi to my ears. It does however sound like it might be the same player as Guitar 1 on "Three Time Loser".


YO-YO (PART 2)
Composer: Don Covay
Recording date: circa 1967-1968
Vocals - Don Covay
Backing vocals - unknown
Guitar - unknown
Bass - unknown
Tambourine - unknown
Piano - unknown
Drums - unknown

Second half of the song, all one take split in half. And as Don Covay comes in right away asking "Ya all wanna hear some more?" the track was most likely recorded with the plan of splitting it in two. No Hendrix involvement here either.


LOVE IS SWEETER ON THE OTHER SIDE
Composer: Don Covay
Recording date: circa 1970?
Vocals - Don Covay
Acoustic guitar - unknown
Electric guitar - unknown
Bass - unknown

"Love Is Sweeter On The Other Side" was copyrighted in January 1970: 3

LOVE IS SWEETER; w & m Don Covay. 2 p.
© Cotillion Music, Inc.; 19Jan70;
EU159706.

Published by Ragmop Music on the lp though the original registration was by Cotillion Music. Sounds like a studio demo, a bit rough around the edges. One of the highlights of the album but the guitar playing does not sound like Jimi and the 1970 registration date also suggests a post 1966 -recording.


YOU CAN`T GET SOMETHING FOR NOTHING
Composer: Don Covay
Recording date: ?
Vocals - Don Covay
Guitar - unknown
Bass - unknown
Drums - unknown

Clearly a demo recording with very shaky playing. Guitar playing does not sound like Jimi.


YOUR LOVE HAS GOT TO ME
Composer: Don Covay
Recording date: ?
Vocals - Don Covay
Harmony vocals - unknown
Piano - unknown
Guitar - unknown
Bass - unknown
Drums - unknown

Sounds like a finished studio take. Can`t hear Jimi here.




SOURCES
1 the single was reviewed in Billboard issue 12 November 1966

2 Library of Congress Copyright Office
Catalog of Copyright Entries 1967 Music July-Dec 3D Ser Vol 21 Pt 5 Secs 1-2

3 Library of Congress Copyright Office
Catalog of Copyright Entries 3D Series Vol 24 Pt 5 Secs 1-2

4 Library of Congress Copyright Office
Catalog of Copyright Entries 1966 Music July-Dec 3D Ser Vol 20 Pt 5 Secs 1-2

5 Under the headline "Original Sound Reports 75% Sales Increase" the 21 January 1967 Cash Box -issue reported: "Adding to the upsurge in business is the purchase of a master from Phoenix, "Funky Broadway Part I And Part II," by Dyke and the Blazers." The same issue lists the Original Sound -single in the "Looking Ahead" chart. The 24 December 1966 -issue of Billboard lists the original Sound -single under "R&B SPOTLIGHTS".

6 reviewed in Cash Box 2 December 1967

7 the single is mentioned twice in the 6 April 1968 -issue of Cash Box

8 ad in Record World 17 February 1968

9 the song is mentioned in multiple newspaper gig ads from mid December 1967 onwards , for example Philadelphia Daily News 19 December 1967, so it was probably released in late 1967

10 Atlantic Records Discography Vols. 1 & 2 (compiled by Michel Ruppli), info also available online at www.jazzdisco.org/atlantic-records/discography-1966