Last week I stumbled upon Dennis Coffey’s 1976 album Finger Lickin Good. Initially, I pulled this record out of the 8,000 record stash because I thought the cover was epic and I was just going to add it to my Instagram feed of interesting/funny album art. I brought the record home, put it on the turntable an discovered that it was a pretty decent disco instrumental guitar album (although Disco is my least favorite genre) and I decided to dig deeper.
It turns out that Dennis Coffey doesn’t just have amazing taste in choosing his album covers, but he is also an accomplished funk/soul musician (who occasionally dabbled in the dark side of Disco). Coffey played on numerous landmark Mowtown records as a studio musician, bringing a distinctive, rock guitar driven sound to these recordings and finally broke thru individually in 1971 when he recorded and sold a million copies of his instrumental single “Scorpio”, putting him all the way up to #6 on the Billboard Charts. His success on the charts lead him to be the first white artist to perform on Soul Train. (1)
Yes, Coffey is not black, something which came as a great surprise to me after seeing the album cover and listening to the record. However, Coffey has some real street/Motown cred, from throwing down some serious funk for The Temptations to his work on the sound track for the cult classic film Black Belt Jones. Coffey’s work has even been sampled by Public Enemy, LL Cool J and The Beasty Boys (2). Coffey recently gained notoriety in the 2012 documentary “Searching For Sugarman” for being cited one of the guys who discovered folk legend Sixto Rodriguez in Detroit where Sixto was playing a gig in a smoke filled, decrepit bar named The Sewer (1)
Coffey’s album also boast creativity in it’s song titles. They include::
“If you can’t dance to this, you got no business havin-feet” and “El Tigre”
As mentioned previously, I am not a disco fan, but I enjoyed Coffey’s rendition of Fame by David Bowie on this album and “I’ve got a real good feeling” which has a little more funk on the track. On Fame, Coffey showcases his ingenious use of the wah wah pedal to make his guitar sing some of the refrains of the songs, Peter Frampton style. I will try to track down some real funk from Coffey and post it to the blog.