[BluesList] Irma Thomas has mixed feelings about the rediscovery of her 1970s-era 'Lost Cotillion Album'

Bill Dahl dahlbill@aol.com
Sat May 17 14:34:32 EDT 2014


The September 13-14, 1955 New Orleans sessions with Bumps at the helm were Richard's first for Specialty--all that predated them were two self-produced demos ("Baby" and "All Night Long") cut at WMBL in Macon in February of '55 with the Upsetters that Richard mailed to Rupe. Nothing cut by Richard at Cosimo's prior to "Tutti Frutti" even remotely resembles Cole's crooning--just a half-dozen emotionally charged, gospel-inflected blues ballads that presage the advent of soul music as we now know it (including the classic "Directly From My Heart"), a swinging "Baby," and the blazing "Kansas City." When Richard sat down at the piano (replacing Huey Smith), it made a huge difference. 
Richard's prior jump blues sessions for RCA Victor and Peacock had no Cole-styled ballads either--he was always a Billy Wright/Roy Brown disciple prior to finding his own style. Specialty's boxed set of Richard's sides from this period gives the full story--it's a must!
Bill Dahl
dahlbill@aol.com

 
 
-----Original Message-----
From: Jef Jaisun <jef@jaisunphoto.com>
To: Blues_L <Blues_L@listserv.nethelps.com>; Blues_L <Blues_L@listserv.nethelps.com>
Sent: Sat, May 17, 2014 1:07 pm
Subject: Re: [BluesList] Irma Thomas has mixed feelings about the rediscovery of her 1970s-era 'Lost Cotillion Album'


Correct on Ray Charles, because Bumps had worked with Ray in Seattle inthe late 1940s. My recollection is that Art Rupe wasn't getting anywherewith Richard stylistically, which is why Bumps was brought in to give ita shot. Until that fateful "Tutti Frutti" night Bumps hadNat-ish designs for Richard. Good thing that changed!

JJ


At 10:54 AM 5/17/2014, Bill Dahl wrote:

Specialty Recordsnever tried to make Little Richard sound like Nat Cole, nor did any otherlabel (he would have been incapable of it). His historic first 1955sessions in New Orleans for Specialty had already included the blisteringrocker "Kansas City" and some terrific blues ballads (think RoyBrown or Billy Wright, not Nat) prior to Richard and Bumps Blackwellheading out for a bite to eat, where Richard commandeered the piano andperformed the then-raunchy "Tutti Frutti." Since Bumps hadn'theard him do the song before, it certainly wasn't his fault it wasn't onthe schedule that day, but it sure was when they got back to Cosimo's.Perhaps you're thinking of Ray Charles, who cut a slew of ballads in avery Cole/Charles Brown bag until he found his own rougher, moregospel-influenced style--but that was his own preference, not that of aproducer.
 
I'm quite pleased Real Gone has unearthed these priceless Irma Thomastapes. They may be uneven, but I'm sure I'll enjoy them a whole lot morethan her recent MOR-slanted stuff for Rounder. I'll be reviewing theThomas CD in my next Blues Music Magazine reissue column!
 
Bill Dahl
dahlbill@aol.com
 
 
-----Original Message-----
From: Jef Jaisun <jef@jaisunphoto.com>
To: Blues_L <Blues_L@listserv.nethelps.com>; BLUES-L<Blues_L@listserv.nethelps.com>
Sent: Sat, May 17, 2014 12:37 pm
Subject: Re: [BluesList] Irma Thomas has mixed feelings about therediscovery of her 1970s-era 'Lost Cotillion Album'

 "Full Time Woman" was originally written and recorded byblues singer Alice Stuart, who is still performing and touring.www.alicestuart.com The songwas released on her Fantasy Records album in 1970, and remains in her setlist. It's been covered by a number of artists besides Irma, one of thembeing Grootna, the group produced by Jefferson Airplane's Marty Balin in1972 for Columbia. Somewhere I might still have the rare single of thatrelease. 

Arif Mardin produced a huge number of successful female balladeers.Unfortunately for Irma, one of them was Diana Ross. Also unfortunately,when it came to Irma, Mardin couldn't see the forest for the trees. Maybeit was that failure that helped him do a better job later on, withartists like Anita Baker, Norah Jones and Roberta Flack. 

It always bothers me to hear of bonehead recording moguls trying tochange the style of inherently great artists to match someone alreadyfamous. How many flopped folksingers have been touted as "the nextBob Dylan?" Specialty Records tried to get Little Richard to soundlike Nat Cole, til one night producer Bumps Blackwell heard the realRichard on stage. Columbia had no clue what to do with Aretha early on,and those LPs made her sound like a lounge singer. At least Wexler gotthat one right when he signed her to Atlantic. In 1970, a blues singerfriend of mine was told by another top clown at Columbia that he neededto "sound more like James Taylor." Say what? Kind of brings upthe retro-rhetorical question: "So what was your first clue therecording industry was on coke?"

Forty years later Irma still rules. Anyone who's see her perform can tellyou that.

JJ



At 05:29 AM 5/17/2014, Jimmy Jacobs wrote:

I listened to some of thisduring my last visit to NOLA and passed on buying it.  

http://www.nola.com/music/index.ssf/2014/05/irma_thomas_has_mixed_feelings.html#cmpid=nwsltrhead 
 
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