From his early work with ’50s/’60s hit makers the Royaltones (who also backed other artists, including Del Shannon); to his run through the Motor City’s independent labels as a session ace; to his pioneering and legendary work with the Funk Brothers, backing band to massive Motown hits like “Just My Imagination,” “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today),” “War,” “Cloud Nine,” “Someday We’ll Be Together,” and “Band of Gold” among many others; there’s no doubt about it: Dennis Coffey is a guitar legend.
Motown’s move to the West Coast in the ’70s didn’t slow him down. Instead, he struck out on his own and recorded a million-selling hit, “Scorpio,” in 1971. Coffey continued his studio session work (notably appearing on “Boogie Fever” by the Sylvers), scored films and produced other artists’ albums, such as Gallery’s Nice To Be With You and Rodriguez’s Cold Fact.
The 2000s have found Coffey appearing on the big screen, including the 2002 film Standing in the Shadows of Motown and 2012’s Searching for Sugarman. And to this very day you can find him playing every Tuesday night in Detroit.
One Night at Morey’s: 1968, scheduled for June 8, 2018 release on Omnivore Recordings, is drawn from the Lyman Woodard Trio’s residency at Morey Baker’s Showplace Lounge in Detroit. In those days the trio, consisting of Coffey on guitar, organist Lyman Woodard, and drummer Melvin Davis, could be found at their regular weekly stint at Morey’s. They played to a dedicated audience of often-repeat attendees, so the band kept the repertoire fresh and changing. One Night at Morey’s: 1968 follows last year’s Hot Coffey in the D: Burnin’ at Morey Baker’s Showplace Lounge, released by Resonance Records and also drawn from the Morey’s residency, but with an entirely different track list.
All tracks on One Night at Morey’s: 1968 are previously unissued and come directly from the vaults of Coffey and his producer partner, Mike Theodore. There are original compositions “Big City Lights,” “Mindbender,” and “Union Station,” as well as surprising and funky covers of “Billie’s Bounce” by Charlie Parker, “Burning Spear” by The Soul Strings, “Cissy Strut” by the Meters, “Eleanor Rigby” by the Beatles, “Groovin’” by the Young Rascals, and “I’m a Midnight Mover,” by Wilson Pickett (from the pen of both Pickett and Bobby Womack).
According to Coffey, “Morey Baker’s was the hottest club in town and packed every night! We rocked the house. I am excited to be working with Omnivore, a record label that really appreciates the music we created back then!”
1. I’m a Midnight Mover 4:03
2. Eleanor Rigby 13:39
3. Cissy Strut 9:13
4. Groovin’ 6:34
5. Burning Spear 13:54
6. It’s Your Thing/Union Station 3:05
7. Mindbender 4:17
8. Big City Lights 2:58
9. Billie’s Bounce 2:43