A Very Synthy September, 8/6/19; Patrick Cowley – Menergy
Happy First Friday everyone! It’s a new month, a new season. It’s time change the course a bit. We’re going to hit the ground running on the heels of the summer rock block we burned through with a selection of albums that all demonstrate proactive use of the synth. For the next month, The Public Records will be sharing a gaggle of wax that’ll be fun to listen to.
Our first album this month will a monster of an introduction. Like Yngwie to the shred, Patrick Cowley is to electronic music and this week we’re featuring his first solo album, Menergy (Unidisc, 1981). Cowley was born in Buffalo NY in 1950. His family ended up in the city of Rochester where he ended up becoming a popular drummer with several successful local acts before it was time for college. He went off to study English at Niagara University transferring to Buffalo U. Becoming more and more interested in music and its production, at the age of twenty one he decided to study synthesizer at the City College of San Francisco.
Being young and gay in the heart of American counter culture in 1970s San Francisco as the Gay liberation movement picked up steam was, for Cowley, serendiptious. It was 1971. He was 21. And he was in San Francisco studying synthesizer. There was a war going on and the people were pissed. New drugs were being explored as the ’50s kids started to gain purchasing power and began to direct the mood.
Bars and clubs were opening all over the place, cocaine and disco were raging. Dancing and free love was everywhere. The people demanded faster music and when Patrick met Sylvester, a popular local musician who had heard his early recordings, asked Cowley to record on his second album. They began to write together and by the mid 70s, Cowley was a full member of the band which was making world tours.
By 1981, Patrick Cowley was ready to release some solo material and it is with this wild celebration of the gay club scene we open our ‘Very Synthy September’. In Europe Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder had been developing and this was almost mirrored by Sylvester and Patrick Cowley. From the west and the east, the people were presented with Hi-NRG. Four on the floor reigned.
It was in this same year, that while touring with Sylvester, he began to feel unwell. When the tour was over, he continued to worsen. Several visits to doctors yielded unsatisfying results and Cowley kept working. It was the early days of the knowledge of HIV and AIDS and he had been misdiagnosed. Two more albums were produced; however at the too young of an age, 32, Patrick Cowley passed.
Honor the synth a man that used it well with a Plymouth Navy Strength & Sloe Gin Slow Screw. We’ll be seeing you…