Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Album Review: Carle Thomas, The Queen Alone

Artist: Carla Thomas
Title: The Queen Alone
Writer: Rick Galusha

While soon to be revived, The Stax recording label is a blip, albeit a wonderful blip, in the history of recorded music. But a few know the label beyond its biggest artists; Otis Redding and Sam & Dave. That Carla Thomas and her deejay father Rufus Thomas were there when Stax was still the Satellite recording label is the thing that trivia games are made of. Initially Carla was one half of the singing duo that included her father. As the title of this reissue indicates, this is a solo effort for her. (The ‘Queen’ reference actually refers to an early duet album with Otis Redding entitled, ‘King and Queen.’)

If one considers James Brown to be the Godfather of Soul and Aretha Franklin to be its Queen, it is reasonable to think of Thomas as one of Soul’s Lady’s-in-Waiting. This is a very good album, and it is wonderful to have a chance to hear it again, but it is neither earth moving nor precedent setting in that Carla Thomas’ hits, such as, ‘B-A-B-Y’ and others are unheard today and essentially obscure. Her talents are unremarkable but warm and pleasant; she is a crafted artisan that makes the most of her skills. The songwriting is classic Stax including compositions by the stables finest including; Issac Hayes, David Porter, Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones, Eddie Floyd and others. Replete with strings and interesting rhythms, as heard on the 16th (bonus) track, I Wonder, these albums shows the interested and inquisitive how the Stax artists would come together and produces albums for their stars.

The album opens with the Burt Bacharach co-written tune, Any Day Now, and proceeds to become more soulful. The heavy Memphis Stax soul sound is wonderful and vibrant but it is not for everyone and nearly everyone will want to give this album a pass, not because it isn’t good (see my rating) but because it is outside the interest of most. There are no flashy guitars or rough hewn edges – this is pure pop music ala ‘1960’s. During its heyday Stax recording some of pop music's most interesting catalogue of songs, at least as far as I am concerned, and clearly Carla Thomas was an active player during that period. This is a well done album and with repeated listens there are those that will come to appreciate the foils of Carla Thomas but it is a small audience in search of great missing Soul nuggets.

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