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Coven

A band of many firsts (and quite a few lasts, too), Coven was a unique product of their liberal, late-'60s environment,transforming their concerts andalbums into full-fledged satanic rituals on a scale never seen in pop music up to that time.But once stripped of its considerable shock value, the band'suneven mixture of psychedelic and early progressive rock wasreally more flawed than groundbreaking. Coven was formed in late-'60s Chicago by Jinx Dawson (an Indiana native, first name Esther, who had previously studiedopera), bassist Oz Osborne (norelation to the Black Sabbath singer), and dru ...read more

A band of many firsts (and quite a few lasts, too), Coven was a unique product of their liberal, late-'60s environment,transforming their concerts andalbums into full-fledged satanic rituals on a scale never seen in pop music up to that time.But once stripped of its considerable shock value, the band'suneven mixture of psychedelic and early progressive rock wasreally more flawed than groundbreaking. Coven was formed in late-'60s Chicago by Jinx Dawson (an Indiana native, first name Esther, who had previously studiedopera), bassist Oz Osborne (norelation to the Black Sabbath singer), and drummer Steve Ross, and by 1967/1968, they couldbe seen opening local shows for visiting luminaries rangingfrom Vanilla Fudge to the Yardbirds, with the help of ancillaryplayers Chris Nielsen on guitar and John Hobbs on keyboards. From the very beginning,Coven's performances took the shapeof elaborate satanic rites that largely overshadowed their music, but this didn't stop local producer Bill Traut (theowner oflocal independent, Dunwich Records, and a major mover and shaker in the Windy City rock scene) from recognizing the coretrio's potential, thenpairing them with external songwriters, and securing a wider distribution deal with Chicago's own MercuryRecords. The first spawn of their unholy unionwas 1969's legendary Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls album, whichdraped Coven's diffuse mix of psychedelic prog rock and pop under averitable catalog of deeply occult lyrics, opening with asong named -- remarkably enough -- "Black Sabbath," and culminating in a 13-minute reading ofthe Satanic Black Massitself. What's more, the album contained a now-infamous poster depicting said Black Mass, where bandmembers andassociatesdressed in monks' robes hoisted torches, upside-down crosses, and threw devil's horns hand signs over a starknaked Dawson, who herself served as theobject of their human sacrifice. It should be noted, however, that the strikingsinger (who made it a point to cast the devil's horns throughout the band'sshows) possessed a highly distinctive and refinedvoice reminiscent of Grace Slick, only much more powerful. Unfortunately, none of this would matterwhen the not-unexpected controversy that followed the album's release led to widespread boycotts from retailers and mass returns. Then,the imminentrise to fame of Britain's Black Sabbath and their own Ozzy Osbourne just a few months later muddled thesituation even further, simultaneously causingmuch confusion for consumers and overshadowing Coven's quickly dating psychtendencies under the deadweight of heavy metal's leaden boots. The finalblow came when Coven were cited in a March 1970article in Esquire Magazine entitled "Evil Lurks in California," that linked the counterculture with theoccult via Charles Mansonand his family's heinous acts, convincing Mercury to officially withdraw Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Soulsfromcirculation. Coven would never really recover from this setback, and had effectively disbanded by the end of 1970; but a new lineupfronted by a then California-based Jinx Dawson was given a second chance at success via the recording of a single called"One Tin Soldier" for a movie soundtrack, which surprisinglycharted three separate times in Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 overthe next few years: reaching number 26 in 1971, number 79 in 1973, and number 73in 1974. Amid these recurring signs oflife, Dawson and co. recorded an eponymous Coven album for MGM in 1972 and third opus named Blood on theSnow forBuddah Records in 1974; moving closer, each time out, to the hard rock and heavy metal sounds that their iconoclastic debuthad influencedindirectly, in terms of imagery and aesthetics, if not the music itself. Blood on the Snow's title track was alsothe subject of one of the first true musicvideos ever produced (ironically in partnership with Disney Studios), but its failureto impact the charts would mark the dwindling of Coven's activitiesover the next few years, as Dawson began focusing on abudding acting and modeling career, instead. Sure enough, it was through Dawson's movieindustry work that Coven wouldeventually reemerge in 1990, when the singer collaborated with original drummer Steve Ross on the soundtrack to afilmentitled Heaven Can Help, and then appeared in it with assorted new bandmembers, but this, too, proved a short-livedreunion. Coven's nextresurrection would, as with so many cult bands of every stripe, result from organic rediscovery via theworldwide web, followed by renewed engagementby Dawson herself as she realized the lasting power of her "Goth Queen"legacy. Come 2008, she had assembled a new CD of unreleased Coven materialentitled Metal Goth Queen: Out of the Vault,which reputedly featured session work from original Steppenwolf guitarist Michael Monarch, one-time JethroTull bassist GlenCornick, and even James Gang/Deep Purple guitarist Tommy Bolin, captured on some of his final recordings. « hide

Similar Bands: The Doors, Roky Erickson, Black Sabbath, Black Widow, Shocking Blue

LPs
Blood On The Snow
1974

3.1
6 Votes
Coven
1972

3
3 Votes
Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls
1969

3.9
45 Votes
Compilations
Metal Goth Queen - Out of the Vault
2008

Contributors: arcane, P003htb, Mad., rockandmetaljunkie, LokitheTrickster, Voivod, Voivod,

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