Covington, Joe E

Band members               Related acts

Joe E. Covington -- vocals, drums, percussion (1973)

- ‘Senator’ Patrick Craig -- keyboards (1973)

- Stevie Midnight -- guitar (1973)

- Prendergast -- bass (1973)




The Fenwicks

- Hot Tuna

- The Jefferson Airplane





Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Joe E. Covington's Fat Fandango

Company: Grunt

Catalog: BFL1-0149

Year: 1973

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG- / VG

Comments: radio station copy; four stickers on cover; little bit of writing on back cover; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5505

Price: $20.00


You have to feel kind of sorry for Joe E. Covington.  If you recognize the name at all, chances are that it’s a result of his late inning association with The Jefferson Airplane – he replaced Spencer Dryden in 1971, or for his work with The Airplane spin off Hot Tuna.  Though he only played on one Airplane album (19721’s “Bark”), that connection was enough to line up financing for his 1973 album debut – “Joe E. Covington’s Fat Fandango” on The Airplane’s RCA Victor affiliated Grunt label. 



Ironically Covington’s solo debut actually stretched back to 1967 when he released a one-shot single for the small Original Sound label – an early cover of The Who’s ‘Boris the Spider’ b/w ‘I’ll Do Better Next Time’ (Original Sound catalog OS-74). He’d also been a member of the Pittsburgh-based The Fenwicks and after quitting The Airplane  joined Peter Kaukonen’s Black Kangaroo.


A word of warning before I go on …  This album gets universally slammed by critics.  I’ve yet to find a single positive review.  I’ll be the first to admit this isn’t a great album, but it’s one of those occasional ‘growers’ and I’d much rather be pleasantly surprised by an album, than discovering the hype surrounding an LP was nothing but dealer generated crap.  Co-produced by Pat Ieraci and Covington, technically "Joe E. Covington's Fat Fandango" didn’t have a great deal going for it.  The first couple of times I played it nothing really registered with me, other than Covington’s shrill, out-of-tune vocals (‘Country Girl’).  Who knows why, but having put the album in my ‘sell’ pile one Sunday morning I decided the give it one more spin. Something clicked this time around.  Showcasing seven self-penned tracks, Covington certainly didn’t have much of a voice (‘course he was a drummer); struggling to stay in tune throughout the album.  While his attempts to sing in tune were only marginally successful, given the LP’s low-key charm, that problematic characteristic kind of faded into the background … c’mon, The Clash couldn’t sing to save their lives.  Calling the album eclectic was an understatement.  Apparently intent on showcasing his diversity, the album bounced all over the musical spectrum, including semi-competent stabs as soul (‘Your Heart Is My Heart’ and ‘Miss Universe’), 1950s rock (‘Moonbeam’), conventional rock (‘Hideout (A Crook’s Best Friend’), and even pseudo-psych (the trippy ‘Mama Neptune’ and the extended closer ‘Vapor Lady’).  Luckily a strong and enthusiastic backing band in the form of keyboardist ‘Senator’ Patrick Craig, guitarist Stevie Midnight, and bassist Jack Prendergast kept things moving in the right direction.  The two previously mentioned soul-ish numbers were particularly good!  Slap them on some type of soul compilation and I’ll guarantee most folks would never be able to guess who the performer was.  The other standout track was the most commercial number – ‘Hideout (A Crook’s Best Friend)’ which went from straight ahead rock to a surprisingly engaging funk workout.  Like I said, nowhere near being essential, but certainly as engaging as most of the solo stuff the better known Airplane/Starship alumni have released over the years.


"Joe E. Covington's Fat Fandango" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Your Heart Is My Heart   (Joe E. Covington) – 3:41

2.) Country Girl   (Joe E. Covington) – 3:27

3.) Moonbeam   (Joe E. Covington) – 3:47

4.) Mama Neptune   (Joe E. Covington) – 7:16


(side 2)
Miss Universe   (Joe E. Covington) – 5:25

2.) Hideout (A Crook’s Best Friend)   (Joe E. Covington) – 4:12

3.) Vapor Lady   (Joe E. Covington) – 8:03



For anyone interested, Covington has an interesting website at: