Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1969-79)
- Steve Long (RIP 2018) -- guitar
- Lindsey Minter -- drums, percussion
- Paul Minter -- bass
- Ray Pawlik -- vocals, guitar
- Richard 'Dicky' Sony (aka King Cotton) -- vocals
- Jeff Skunk Baxter -- guitar
- Bone Daddy's (King Cotton)
- King Cotton and His Cane Cutters (King Cotton)
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Country/State: Houston, Texas
Comments: promo sticker on cover; still in shrink wrap; white inner label
Catalog ID: 4140
I found this one at a flea market and initially picked it up for the striking cover (how many times do you see a close-up of a warthog?). The fact that it cost a dollar and featured Steely Dan's Walter Becker and Donald Fagen arranging much of the LP, playing on a couple of tracks, as well as contributed one selection ('Canyon Ladies') made for an offer I couldn't refuse.
In spite of the Steely Dan connection, there's precious little biographical info to be found about this outfit. From the liner notes I know the band line up consisted of guitarists Steve Long and Ray Pawlik, drummer Lindsey Minter, bass player Paul Minter. I don't know why he's not listed anywhere, but the singer was Richard "Dicky" Sony (see the email below). Formed in 1969, they were apparently from Texas (I assume they lifted their name from the Texas City).
By 1972 Navasota had attracted the attention of ABC-Dunhill Records which signed them to a contract. Recorded at Los Angeles' Village Recorders with Dennis Collin and Gary Kannon producing, most of 1972's "Rootin'" was best described as pedestrian blues and boogie-rock. Powered by Sony's growling vocals, group-penned tracks such as 'Western Boots', '$2 Bill' and 'That's How It Is (Playin' In a Rock & Roll Band)' were tight and fairly commercial, though they didn't exhibit a great deal of originality. Far less impressive were the bands' stabs at country-rock. Complete with pedal steel and whistling solo, 'Ballad of a Young Man' and 'Old Slew Foot' were outright awful - the kind of tunes '70s bands seemed to think was a funny take on what country music sounded like. Blues-rockers like 'I'm Leaving' were marginally better, but again not particularly original impressive. As for the Fagen-Becker number, well it was okay though the lyrics were largely indecipherable. I've always wondered if they recorded the tune themselves. I'm sure there's a Dan fanatic out there who will know. This one album and a promotional single appear to be Navasota's entire catalog.
"Rootin'" track listing:
1.) Western Boots (Richard Sony - Lindsey Minter - G. Minter - Ray Pawlick - Steve Long) - 2:46 rating: ** stars
'Western Boots' started the set off with a rather pedestrian boogie blues number. Sony was certainly an enthusiastic singer, but the song itself sounded like thousands of other blues rockers. Nothing to get excited about.
2.) $2 Bill (Richard Sony - Lindsey Minter - G. Minter - Ray Pawlick - Steve Long) - 2:20 rating: *** stars
You could have been forgiven for mistaking this for a Black Oak Arkansa performance. The song had a similar Southern rock-boogie rock vibe and Sony sure sounded a lot like Jim Dandy this time around.
3.) Ballad of a Young Man (Richard Sony - Lindsey Minter - G. Minter - Ray Pawlick - Steve Long) - 3:30 rating: * star
I'm guessing it was meant to be funny, but 'Ballad of a Young Man' was simply a dreadful performance with one of the fake country arrangements, complete with fiddle, pedal steel and whistling. I don't care how drunk you got, this one still sucked.
4.) That's How It Is (Playin' In a Rock & Roll Band) (Richard Sony - Lindsey Minter - G. Minter - Ray Pawlick - Steve Long) - 4:17 rating: *** stars
Given how bad the previous track was, anything would have been redeeming. In spite of the bland lyric, 'That's How It Is (Playin' In a Rock & Roll Band)' at least found the band returning to a rock mode. Not the most original song you've ever heard, but the guitar solos were nice enough and it was way better than anything up to that point. ABC tapped the song as a promotional single:
- 1972's 'That's How It Is (Playin' In a Rock & Roll Band)' b/w 'That's How It Is (Playin' In a Rock & Roll Band)' (ABC catalog number ABC-11332).
5.) Canyon Ladies (Donald Fagen - Walter Becker) - 4:01 rating: *** stars
At least to my ears, given it was written by Becker and Fagen, the rocker 'Canyon Ladies' was the album's most interesting performance. Again, Navasota performance stripped out any of Steely Dan's typical weirdness, but the tune still sported the album's strongest melody and had a fairly high "hum" quotient. Wonder if Becker and Fagen ever recorded the tune ...
1.) Old Slew Foot (H. Hausey) - 2:56 rating: * star
Geez, back to faux country and just as bad as the earlier 'Ballad of a Young Man'. I think it's a remake of the tune Johnny Horton enjoyed some success with.
2.) I'm Leavin' (C. Burnett) - 3:28 rating: ** stars
Bland blues-rock and by this time Sony's screeching is starting to irritate me. If I wanted to hear something like this I'd go with Delbert McClinton, or an English blues-rock band like Savoy Brown.
3.) P. Farm (Richard Sony - Lindsey Minter - G. Minter - Ray Pawlick - Steve Long) - 3:42 rating: ** stars
Geez, enough of the country flavored tunes ...
4.) Heat of the Night (Richard Sony - Lindsey Minter - G. Minter - Ray Pawlick - Steve Long) - 3:40 rating: ** stars
With a couple of cold beers, 'Heat of the Night' might have been half decent. The twin guitar call and response section was marginally nice. Again, my initial thoughts were along the lines of who put on the Black Oak Arkansas LP ....
5.) Spring Creek (instrumental) (Richard Sony - Lindsey Minter - G. Minter - Ray Pawlick - Steve Long) - 3:25
Easily the album's standout performance, the instrumental 'Spring Creek' sported the nice melody and the prettiest arrangement. The twin guitars actually reminded me briefly of an Allman Brothers tune and not to sound mean-spirited, but it was nice to get a break from Sony's strained vocals.
ABC-Dunhill sent the band out on the road where they were teamed with the likes of Boston and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but sales didn't amount to much outside of their Texas fan base. ABC subsequently dropped the band, though they seem to have stuck it out through the late 1970s.
Minter recently revived the band nameplate - 'Navasota-Rios'. http://www.navasota-rio.com/band/
There's also an interesting YouTube video montage out there with a 1974 performance of the non-LP song 'Wolfman Loup Garou'. You almost have to laugh, but they were apparently opening for Lou Reed.
Luckily the power of the internet recently revealed itself again - witness the following email:
"Your information on Navasota is incorrect, evidently only what you could garner from the album sleeve [well yeah, that's what I said in the original review]. Jeff was not a member, he was only involved during the recording of the album as well as Donald Fagan. The main member (singer, songwriter, and quite the showman) Dicky Sony is not even mentioned. They were known for their live acts most of all and were very popular in the seventies, receiving a lot of air play ('Heat of the Night') on KLOL Houston during the "Crash" days. (Popular DJ at that time) They were on their way, but like a lot of bands during that time, drugs and alcohol took their toll. Not trying to bust your chops, just wanted to give you some of the skinny on what was really a great band during their time.
Sadly, Long passed away from cancer in 2018.
Under the alias King Cotton, Sony continued to perform in a number of bands including King Cotton and His Cane Cutters and The Bone Daddy's. He also saw some success in film, appearing in "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka', 'Tapeheads', 'Blaze' and 'Ed Woods'.
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