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The other day I had the pleasure of speaking with the great Bill Cosby. Yeah, the Bill Cosby. Anyway, we had an awesome conversation, which

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Bill Cosby: Silver Throat

cosby.jpg

The other day I had the pleasure of speaking with the great Bill Cosby. Yeah, the Bill Cosby. Anyway, we had an awesome conversation, which I'll post in its entirety on Thread Count very soon. We talked about all sorts of things in the 30 minutes I had with him, but toward the end of our conversation, I mentioned the above album to him. This is not a Cosby comedy album. It's his 1967 blues groover Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings. And it's really pretty dang good! I don't know who the musicians are on this sucker, but they are funky and soulful and smokin' and Cosby himself, if you didn't know, can sing! It's not the strongest voice, but it works for the material he covers here, such as "Bright Lights Big City" and Jimmy Reed's "Baby What You Want Me To Do". A lot of actors made music in the 60s, which goes to show you that there was once money to be made in the LP racket...(I'm thinking of William Shatner covering "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" or Andy Griffith doing "House of the Rising Sun"). But Silver Throat is a legitimate, awesome album.

However, Cosby told me his personal favorite was this one from 1968...

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"Ah, now that one I like," he said emphatically, as if somewhat denouncing Silver Throat. He then told me the story of how, in L.A. a few years ago, an Israeli limo driver said to him: "Mr. Cosby, do you know this song?"

Says Cosby (to me): "And he began to hum this song. And I said, 'Well, yeah, that's 'Ursulina', which is from that Salvation Army Band record. And the man said 'Did you know that song was maybe the number one of all time in the discos in Israel?' And I said no, I didn't. But I immediately started wondering where the money was from it?'"

I hadn't heard Hooray for the Salvation Army, but I went to my neighbor in West Seattle who has thousands of LPs in his basement. Sure enough, he had a copy. While I personally think Silver Throat is a more solid album, it's a bit more sober than Hooray...and I certainly wasn't going to argue with Mr. Cosby. On Hooray, Cosby speak-sings the songs in his rhythmic-comedic Cosby way, whereas his delivery on Silver Throat is more straightforward. His vocals, for the most part, are funny to hear, especially his cover of "Sgt. Pepper's". But Hooray does feature the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, a hip LA crew Cosby was friends with at the time. They lay down some seriously stoned grooves, which, when paired with Cosby's wonky vocals, make for a pretty wild album. If you haven't heard either of them, do you yourself a favor and track 'em both down. And while we're at it...here's some guy dancing to the Cosby & Quincy Jones classic "Hickey Burr"...

 
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