By Patrick Prince
Singer and multi-instrumentalist CoCo Carmel is rock royalty. She’s been around so much musical talent throughout her life, it was bound to seep in — but she had ‘it’ to begin with. She’s recorded and performed with some of the greatest. She’s currently married to co-founder of Derek and The Dominos, Bobby Whitlock. And she co-produced music with her former husband Delaney Bramlett for years.
“Music has always been a part of my life, no matter where I was or what I was doing. I was either playing music, creating music or singing,” says Carmel.
Her 2013 album with Whitlock, “Carnival,” was met with critical acclaim, and the couple are about to tour together this June.
Here are the 10 albums that changed her life.
Louis Armstrong, What a Wonderful World
The earliest memories I have of being completely struck by music was when, as a child, I lived in Japan. I heard this man with the craziest, most brilliant voice. I was aware that he played the trumpet as well. This song played on the radio quite a bit then and I believe that my parents had the album. As a small child, it touched me. I thought it was beautiful. It really meant something to me. “What a Wonderful World” was my favorite.
Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection
This was one of the first records I bought with my own money. I became a diehard Elton John/Bernie Taupin lover. I knew everyone on every song, and became interested with who the producer and arranger was, everything about the making of a record. Elton John became the doorway to the beginning of my musical career. I could listen to this record all day, every day, I knew every word by heart to every song. This was the first of many records to come that helped shape me as an artist and the direction I aspired to go as a songwriter.
Elton John, Madman Across the Water
“Tumbleweed” and “Madman” to me were like a double album … they sort of went hand in hand. Again, I would listen to this record until it probably drove everyone crazy. The string arrangements were out of this world, and the song arrangements were sublime. I could get lost in them, laying on the floor with headphones on. Another great album that changed my life, and the way I thought about music. It felt like a lesson … this is how you do it. Grown-up rock, not empty trash. Even in those days the radio was full of terrible music. I have always been drawn to music of substance.
George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
I loved this record in its entirety. Best thing any of The Beatles ever did. Period. Personal favorites: “All Things Must Pass,” “If Not For You,” “What is Life” and, of course, “My Sweet Lord.” I never knew that one day, for many years, I would play George’s beloved Rosewood Tele from the “Let it Be” sessions.
The Band, The Last Waltz
This record and the movie blew my mind. Again, it was one of those things where I could lose myself completely in the music. For the first time I didn’t know who I was, but I definitely knew that I was changed, and this was what I wanted to do. This music had such an affect on me. I was living in London at the time and went to a theatre to see the movie. I came out of that place a different person altogether.
The Staple Singers, The Best of The Staple Singers
Vocally, soulfully, song-wise, musically … The Staple Singers were by far my all-time favorite. They were all-encompassing. They touched every part of my being. When it came to vocals they were supreme. Yes, they changed me … left an impression that is lifelong. I could listen to The Staple Singers non-stop and never tire of them. They just make you feel good all over. Whenever I write background parts I cannot help but think of The Staple Singers.
Delaney and Bonnie, Accept No Substitute
I first heard this album in London in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s. I was hooked. Again, I was into the songwriting, the production, the musicians, the horn parts and the singing. Every song on that record was brilliant. It was definitely a favorite and a life-changing album. Little did I know that one day I would be married to Delaney. He was a brilliant songwriter.
Earl Bostic, The Best of
Earl Bostic was my man when it came to the horn. I discovered him while living in London. It could have been Alexis Korner who turned me on to him, but he and I just clicked. I loved his style. He is really the only horn player I really ever listened to. This particular album was my favorite. “Harlem Nocturne” and “Flamingo” are definitely two favorites. Earl Bostic shaped my horn playing for sure…right up to this day.
Nina Simone, Baltimore
I bought this record in Los Angeles and in 1987 I had the opportunity to see Ms. Simone live at the Vine St. Bar & Grill for a one-time performance. We had a little altercation there … but I adored this woman and took all the abuse she could dish out and got a beautiful autograph. She was troubled, but as I say, I loved her no matter what and I played this record time and time again. It has left a lasting impression … I enjoyed it very much. Still do.
Ike and Tina Turner, Greatest Hits
Without a doubt, I was highly influenced by Tina Turner. Her energy and sex appeal were awesome. I wanted to be her. I sang “River Deep, Mountain High,” wore the mini-dresses and high heels, danced onstage. She was electric and she changed my world. I loved “Nutbush City Limits,” “Proud Mary,” “Come Together.” Tina Turner was just immense.