Among the overlooked groups of the '70s is an American band called Wha-Koo. Their debut album of 1977 for ABC Records, recorded under the name of Big Wha-Koo, is a very good collection of rock songs and ballads mostly composed by singer/guitarist Danny Douma. The band's lineup was filled in with David Palmer, the excellent singer on Steely Dan's first album Can't Buy a Thrill (1972), Nick Van Maarth , the guitarist from the late Crickets (originally the Buddy Holly's backup band), Richard Kosinski on keyboards, Andrew Silvester on bass, Don Francisco (ex-Highway Robbery and ex-Crowfoot) on percussion, and Claude Pepper, alias Jack Mack, who would go on to lead his own band, an R&B ensemble called Jack Mack & the Heart Attack. With new bass player Peter Freiberger (Andrew Silvester left the band after the recording of the first album), Wha-Koo recorded Berkshire in 1978, again for ABC. The work, beautifully produced by Ken Caillat and the band itself, is their artistic highlight, a shining effort including such gems as the title track and the ballad "You're Such a Fabulous Dancer," both composed by Douma. His seductive, well-honed songwriter's talent was further showcased in 1979 when he released Night Flight, his stunning solo album for Warner Bros. Most of the Wha-Koo members joined Douma on his solo album, in addition to such guests as Eric Clapton, Garth Hudson from the Band, and members of Fleetwood Mac. Even if the album is in Douma's name, it can be easily considered a Wha-Koo project. In 1979, David Palmer reorganized Wha-Koo with the support of Ron Fransen, Eddie Tuduri, and Eric Gotthelf, and Fragile Line was released on Epic. This third Wha-Koo album, their most rock oriented, is full of great vocal performances by Palmer and has a solid song construction. Unfortunately, it never connected with any kind of mainstream success, so the band split up. Wha-Koo will remain a marginal name in the rock galaxy, but one that has created some excellent music which is definitely worth listening to. Highly recommended is Berkshire, an excellent album that has failed to find the audience it deserves.
by Paolo Filipponi