Listen: Mercy, Mercy / Don Covay & The Goodtimers DonCovayMercy.mp3
I woke up one day realizing albums by The Rolling Stones serve as introductory encyclopedias for figuring out the best American RnB and Blues originals. I felt really behind the curve at that moment, but considering it was still 1969, I caught up ok. The band, or someone in their camp, had impecable taste when picking this stuff. I still read the occassional story of their early visits to the US, whereby they’d all flock to now infamous record shops in Harlem or East LA just to buy all the black releases. Man, those stores must have been amazing. And where are all those records now? There were plenty of those original US pressings amongst the Tony King collection…..
Don Covay entered my world via OUT OF OUR HEADS. The Rolling Stones started side one of the US version with ‘Mercy, Mercy’. OUT OF OUR HEADS was their fourth and final US album to pressed initially (first run only) in the UK, then exported to the US and sleeved here. Just recently have collectors been alerted to this detail, but for years I was buying up those UK copies at garage sales for $1. They are particularly easy to spot. The font is obviously different than US London labels, but they’re also deep groove, and they indicate ‘Made In England’. Quite helpful. A few other London releases during the era (’64 – ’66) were intially pressed in the UK as well: Marianne Faithfull, Tom Jones and Them.
When I worked at Island in the late 80′s, Chris Blackwell signed Don Covay, who came by regularly to see Holly Furgeson and her office was next to mine. She did the A&R admin, and Don Covay handled all his own business. I remember him working diligently on the project only to have it shelved, a bad habit Island always had.
I was well pleased to find not only the original DJ copy of ‘Mercy, Mercy’ amogst Tony’s records, but a very nice UK reissue as well, both pictured above.