One of the most obscure albums Covay cut, Funky Yo Yo slipped out in 1977 on the tiny Versatile label, with such little notice that it's even escaped getting listed in some discographies. It's a strange record, too, with production so sparse (and some dull muffle to the sound fidelity, though it's not a serious impediment) that one suspects these might be demos, or perhaps not even 1977 recordings. Yet in a way that very rootsy, stripped-down feel makes it appealing, particularly as it was appearing at a time when many fellow soul greats of Covay's generation were issuing bloated, hopeless attempts to jump on the disco bandwagon. Far from emulating Barry White, Covay sounds rather like Van Morrison on much of this material, though the similarity's probably coincidental. Particularly on the more bare-bones arrangements, these actually have a cool intimate feel, as if they're songwriter demos intended for pitches to '60s Atlantic recording artists. Indeed, "I Don't Think I Can Make It" is very much like hearing Van Morrison trying to write/sing a song in the style of Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman." To stretch the Morrison comparisons further, "Your Love Has Got to Me" comes off like the ultimate cross between Morrison and Sam Cooke. Covay's one concession, perhaps, to more modern trends was the two-part "Yo Yo," which has a funky party feel, complete with encouraging female shouts in the background. While it's true you'd never place this album among Covay's most essential work, overall it's far better than you'd expect, and worth seeking if you're a serious fan of the singer. AMG.