Song of the Week – Push Push, Herbie Mann


In Mojo #282, writer Michael Simmons opens an article about Delaney & Bonnie with this anecdote:

It’s a steamy August night in New York City, 1970, and Herbie Mann is in his pad when he hears equally hot music blasting from nearby Central Park. The veteran jazz flautist, bandleader and sessionman for Sarah Vaughn, Count Basie and Chet Baker, is bewitched. A female voice – as sultry as the weather – oozes carnality, while a guitarist bends blue notes like an electrified Robert Johnson. Behind them, a fiery band blends southern R&B and rock’n’roll.

Mann grabs his axe, heads for the park and, squeezing his way on-stage, joins the dozen-strong cast of crack instrumentalists. Hey! – says the look on their delighted faces – it’s Herbie Mann! The female voice, Mann discovers, belongs to blond bombshell Bonnie Bramlett; on the other vocal mike is her handsome, bearded husband Delaney, dispensing cues with the neck of his guitar. The collective crew are Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, the Friends tonight including transcendent slide guitarist Duane Allman – whose own Allman Brothers Band is just taking off – plus King Curtis – hands down the greatest soul saxophonist of all time.

This story led me to recall that Mann recruited Allman to play guitar on the sessions for his breakthrough album Push Push in 1971. I wonder if the Central Park concert is where they first met and decided to work together.

Today’s SotW is the title track “Push Push,“ the album cut that leaves the most room for some tasty Allman guitar work.

But Allman wasn’t the only stellar musician to play on these dates. Mann’s backers also included Chuck Rainey (bass), Bernard Purdie (drums) and Ralph McDonald – all who later would play on sessions for Steely Dan. And let’s not fail to mention Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass) and Al Jackson Jr. (drums), both from the famous Stax studio house band.

Unfortunately, any article about Push Push has to make mention that is has one of the worst album covers of all time. Here’s one article that makes that case:

Bad Album Covers Exposed! The Music Behind the Worst Vinyl Art Of All Time

Enjoy… until next week.

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