Dennis Coffey and the last of the Detroit greats

Jason Diamond

Dennis Coffey's recently released self-titled album on Strut is not only an excuse for one of the greats to show off his chops, it's a showcase of Detroit muscle musicians like Mick Collins, Mayer Hawthrone, and Rachel Nagy of the Detroit Cobras. The album is full of Coffey's trademark wah-wah guitar sounds and heavy psychedelic soul, but its importance lies in the fact that it bridges the gap between his generation, and the one that has kept Detroit music on the map even while the rest of world sees the city crumbling to the ground.

Coffey is sort of a last man standing type alongside Wayne Kramer, and I guess you could say Ted Nugent (although I'd rather count him out), in terms of the great geniuses from Detorit's golden era. We've lost Rick James, Fred “Sonic” Smith, countless Funk Brothers, and Ron Asheton. Iggy has finally gone off the deep end, and at this point it seems like Eminem has become the only good spokesman the city has left. But Detroit won't go away anytime soon, and it's music like this that proves that.

Besides the fact that it's an enjoyable album, Dennis Coffey's latest also works as another symbol of Detroit's continued attempt at a comeback. It takes what made it great in the past (in this case, heavy music, not heavy cars) and combines it with all the resources it has today.

Dennis Coffey, “Knockabout”

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