Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Beat Goes On: Cozy Powell: "Dance With The Devil"

And so Music Sounds Better With Two returns, to an insistent drumbeat; and with that rocking start the mid-70s begins as well...

Cozy Powell - a drummer from the Midlands who ordinarily played with various groups as a drummer - at this point he'd been with Jeff Beck and his own band Bedlam - was striking out on his own with this tribute (a #2 hit on Radio Luxembourg), on RAK records (meaning - that's probably Suzi Quatro in the back on vocals and bass).  This song is overtly a tribute to Jimi Hendrix, however; and with "Third Stone From The Sun" being the melody to the insistent beat*, the 70s once again remind the listening public of what has been and how the beating of drums can somehow summon them back again, drumming as a medium's way of bringing the dead back to life...

...and what a life!  Trying to even sum up Jimi Hendrix's importance to those who don't know him (astonishingly I tried to do this once and was frustrated even then with how indescribable his music is, how dangerous and ecstatic and in-your-face it is all at the same time - frustrated with myself, I should hasten, not Jimi).  The Olympian heights he reached inspired so many people, some of whom were copyists, others more their own innovators in their own areas (Freddie Mercury's vocals were deeply influenced by Hendrix's bravado guitar solos).  I am not, as a rule, one to sit around going "whoa dude" at guitarists in general, being more into the groove and feel of things, but Hendrix is someone I have a lot of time for; listening to a certain BBC station in the morning and hearing yet more news about Led Zeppelin is enough to make me shake my head at the bagel I am slicing, but somehow anything Hendrix grabs my attention.  He is still ahead, still the way forward, still actual news.  And it is no good wondering where the next Hendrix is (as Chrissie Hynde did back in the 90s, esp. wondering where the female Hendrix was) as one was quite enough and is still very much here, with no need for a "next."

As for Powell, he continued to work at RAK for a while as well as forming his own band, and then joined Rainbow in 1975; he continued to drum in various bands until his death in 1998.  He took his nickname (his actual name was Colin Flooks; you'd change it too) from the US jazz drummer Cozy Cole, who'd had huge hits with "Topsy" and "Topsy Part 2" - both songs that were mainly drum solos, a rare thing at any time.  And so jazz makes a sideways wink into this song as well, as if to say - to Hendrix and to Powell - that it is the umbrella underneath which all other musics stand.  Let the music play, and we can all beat the devil.      

Next up:  The kids, the kids, and possibly some more roots of punk?

*The beat on the original was far more laid back, as befits 1967, man.