Joey Covington

Fat Fandango

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Fat Fandango by Jefferson Airplane drummer Joey Covington is a major revelation, a wonderful artifact from the day when record labels allowed certain bands their own imprint and side musicians a chance to fully express their artistry. Released on Grunt in 1973, there is a smooth jazz/psychedelic continuity to the entire project. For fans of "Pretty as You Feel," Covington's FM hit Airplane composition, there's enough esoteric musical ramblings on the eight-plus minute "Vapor Lady" to warrant repeated spins. This is a great, lost party album, a truly interesting and wonderful exploration of clashing genres. The cover art by José Montanes reflects the abstract feel of the sound inside, and Covington's vocals are unique enough to match the blending notes that seep in and out of the grooves. If nothing else it sounds like the Fat Fandango band is having lots of fun, and that's an element missing from too many pseudo-intellectual albums from this period. "Your Heart Is My Heart" opens the disc with folksy pop that at first doesn't hint at the cosmic wanderings that are to follow. The tune pours Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions-style R&B into the mix, and it is most refreshing as the avant-garde takes over. Dramatic guitar and backing vocals soften up the experimentation that unfolds further on "Country Girl." It's kind of like the Band meets the Velvet Underground's Loaded, but works on some strange level. Fat Fandango puts some light on just how creative Joey Covington could be outside of the various Jefferson Airplane side projects he was involved in, and the pity here is that he didn't team up with other likeminded personalities for a slew of recordings. Doug Yule and Buzzy Linhart come to mind as potential co-conspirators who could embrace the '50s-gone-mad timewarp that is "Moonbeam," which could have been a real left-field hit if given half a chance. Fine stuff for people who appreciate high-risk music, "Mama Neptune" is seven minutes and 16 seconds of just what the title promises. Cool because it doesn't try to be. It just is.

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