BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

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Rayge
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BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Rayge » 28 Oct 2014, 12:40

When I shoe-horned Irma into the 130, it was partly because she was the one in whom most interest was expressed when I opened a Who Should I Write About? thread. I know she is not remotely 'canon', but she fucking well ought to be, and I would dearly like to spread around the love I have for what, on balance, is the greatest of all soul vocalists by some distance. However, I've been on holiday, I'm not well, this is late, and I've had a disappointingly muted response to most of my threads on the 130 that have dealt with soul or singles artists from the Sixties, which has convinced me, if the 60s cup hadn't, that very few of you share my tastes, so for now I'm just going to list a few things and embed a couple of youtubes and maybe come back to it later if I get better.
Irma Thomas was born in Louisiana in 1941. She is still performing and recording today (and looking really well on it for a 73-year-old who was twice divorced and a mother of four when she made her first record, the bluesy You Can Have My Husband, But Please Don't Mess With Man at the age of 19 on a local New Orleans label. That was a hit, and she was signed to Minit, which had national distribution, and began to announce herself with some beautiful early soul / pop singles, the perennially anthologized It's Raining and Ruler of My Heart, as well as the lesser known, but equally good Two Winters Long and It's Too Soon to Know.
I knew nothing of this until much later – I'm pretty sure none of her early Minit singles were picked up for release in the UK – with my introduction coming after Minit was gobbled up by Imperial (released here on Liberty) and she had her first and only top 20 pop hit with the sublime Wish Someone Would Care, which she also wrote, in 1964, aged 23. (The backing group vocals are by Darlene Love and the Blossoms)



On the B-side was Break-A-Way, later murdered by Tracey Ullman. This set a trend: the next eight singles she released were all double-sided gems, the best run of singles by anyone, ever, particularly the three that followed in 1964. They include soul anthems, deep blues, up-tempo R&B pop, even a James Brown answer record (the weakest of the lot). She had a brilliant band, excellent material (some self-penned), and, as I mentioned before, the best set of pipes in the business. I'm not going to embed them, there's too many, look for yourself. This is the run
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)/ Time Is on My Side
Times Have Changed /Moments To Remember
He's My Guy / (I Want A) True, True Love
Some Things You Never Get Used To / You Don't Miss A Good Thing
I'm Gonna Cry Till My Tears Run Dry / Nobody Wants To Hear Nobody's Troubles
It's Starting To Get To Me Now / Hurt's All Gone
Take A Look / What Are You Trying To Do
It's a Man's-Woman's World (parts 1 and 2)
Later in 1964, early 1965, I joined her short-lived fan club (the only time I ever did this for anyone) which was set up by Dave Godin, and I've been astonishing people with those singles ever since. I created at least a dozen die-hard fans.

After this, she made some OK singles for Chess and some small labels, then retired back to New Orleans where she performed regularly at a club she opened, The Lion's Den, which was closed by Hurricane Katrina. In the 1980s, she returned to performing outside NO more regularly, in gospel and secular styles, and began making albums (most of her previous ones were singles plus filler – very good filler mind) for Rounder Records, winning a Grammy at age 65 for one of them in 2006. These are all fine albums, and by Dog she has retained more of her voice intro late middle and old age than most, but it's the singles and the rest of the early singles that really count for me.
For albums, I'd recommend her first, Wish Someone Would Care, or the later compilation Time Is On My Side. Take a Look is excellent, too, but I've never found a less than good track with her name on it.

Here she shows Otis Redding how it's done ;)



And while looking for that, a found this: 70 plus, producing a live performance of Forever Young that knocks my socks off.

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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Guy E » 28 Oct 2014, 15:49

I didn't hear Irma Thomas until I started collecting New Orleans records in the late-70's. I was lucky enough to find an LP copy of Wish Someone Would Care.

Her early records were great.

I will give a shout to In Between Tears, the Swamp Dogg-produced album. It's frustrating because it was unfinished and the Coming From Behind/Wish Someone Would Care jam is just a basic track that Jerry Williams Jr. had planned to edit and arrange. He "finished" the album at one point, overdubbing horrible 90's drumming and other affronts. The current CD reissue includes her non-LP Canyon single, We Won't Be In Your Way Anymore b/w I'll Do It All Over You. The A-side is great.

I saw Irma a couple of times during her Rounder period and they were excellent performances.
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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Charlie O. » 28 Oct 2014, 16:40

I love those early singles, too. I don't know her original sixties albums, but the Time Is On My Side CD is a breathtaking comp.
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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby 'skope » 29 Oct 2014, 16:37

cheers rayge.

not really much to add, but wanted to bump your thread by saying that this is in my top 5 songs of all-time.



i get the biggest of BCB hard-ons when i listen to it. in fact, i can't just listen to it once. at 1:32, i melt.

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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Muskrat » 29 Oct 2014, 17:09

She was on Atlantic long enough for this to sneak out; deserved better.

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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Rayge » 29 Oct 2014, 17:42

Muskrat wrote:She was on Atlantic long enough for this to sneak out; deserved better.



I agree that that is a lovely track, but she never actually signed to Atlantic as such: she recorded that for Cotillion, a southern soul subsidiary of the label (which also featured the VU - go figure), and it was released on UK Atlantic, which was owned by Decca, a label set up to feature anything released stateside by Atlantic or its sister labels.
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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Guy E » 29 Oct 2014, 18:30

This came out last year, but it's largely a vintage disappointment. Image

From the liner notes it sounds like the backing tracks were complete when the producer called her in and she was given no time to learn the songs and deliver. Too bad.
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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Your Friendly Neighbourhood Postman » 29 Oct 2014, 18:35

One of my most beloved possesions, on still pristine vinyl:

Image
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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Neige » 29 Oct 2014, 20:29

Sea Of Tunes v2.0 wrote:One of my most beloved possesions, on still pristine vinyl:

Image


Same here but on CD, a fantastic compilation!
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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby John aka Josh » 29 Oct 2014, 20:36

Nothing to add, she is a top singer and made many superb sides. Thanks for the write up Rayge.
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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Charlie O. » 29 Oct 2014, 20:40

Rayge wrote:she never actually signed to Atlantic as such: she recorded that for Cotillion, a southern soul subsidiary of the label (which also featured the VU - go figure)

And ELP!
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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Nolamike » 29 Oct 2014, 21:50

Rayge wrote:I know she is not remotely 'canon', but she fucking well ought to be, and I would dearly like to spread around the love I have for what, on balance, is the greatest of all soul vocalists by some distance.


I've always ranked her right there as well.

Even her less inspired stuff - e.g., the Cotillion recordings - still has merit. And her run on Rounder, starting in '86, is a lot better than I would have expected it to be, considering how many of her '60s peers have floundered during the same time.

And if y'all ever get the chance to see her live, do - she always puts on a great show. Every year at Jazzfest, she'll do a set in the gospel tent, which is a real treat, as you don't normally get to hear her tackle that material.
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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby toomanyhatz » 30 Oct 2014, 18:38

John aka Josh wrote:Nothing to add, she is a top singer and made many superb sides. Thanks for the write up Rayge.


Yeah, about all I can say as well. She's another artist (Nina Simone, another Rayge write-up, has the same effect on me) where I love just about everything I've heard but don't really have a sense of the career-arc so I'm still figuring out what my favorite stuff is.

I do love the one 'skope posted, as well as this one:



What an odd little song.
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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Phenomenal Cat » 02 Nov 2014, 03:16

My local library actually has this:

Image

Doesn't it look awful?
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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Stille Baron » 02 Nov 2014, 03:24

It's wonderful.
But yeah, it looks bad.
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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Six String » 02 Nov 2014, 07:24

Don't tell Aretha but I think Irma took her crown years ago. :)

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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby GoogaMooga » 02 Nov 2014, 10:02

don't like the guide bleeps on some tracks on the early charly minit comp, they wrote that it was for the sake of completeness, but i'd rather have done without. i do collect her on all labels, and was lucky to see her perform live.
1966 and all that

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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Your Friendly Neighbourhood Postman » 02 Nov 2014, 10:12

GoogaMooga wrote:don't like the guide bleeps on some tracks on the early charly minit comp, they wrote that it was for the sake of completeness, but i'd rather have done without. i do collect her on all labels, and was lucky to see her perform live.


Googs, I admire your broad universality.

From James Last to Roger Whittaker to Irma Thomas - and back again.

One day, you will own every record ever made.

;)
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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby GoogaMooga » 02 Nov 2014, 10:15

Sea Of Tunes v2.0 wrote:
GoogaMooga wrote:don't like the guide bleeps on some tracks on the early charly minit comp, they wrote that it was for the sake of completeness, but i'd rather have done without. i do collect her on all labels, and was lucky to see her perform live.


Googs, I admire your broad universality.

From James Last to Roger Whittaker to Irma Thomas - and back again.

One day, you will own every record ever made.

;)


i just collect the tip, but i did choose the biggest iceberg i could find! :D
1966 and all that

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Re: BCB 130 - Irma Thomas

Postby Phenomenal Cat » 02 Nov 2014, 15:32

Six String wrote:Don't tell Aretha but I think Irma took her crown years ago. :)


Seriously?!?
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