Irma Thomas ~ "Soul Queen of New Orleans" Charly (UK) SNAX 635
by Greg Burgess
Don’t Mess With My Man; Set Me Free; A Good Man; I May Be Wrong; Cry On; Girl Needs Boy; It’s Too Soon To Know; That’s All I Ask; I Done Got Over; Gone; It’s Raining;I Did My Part; Two Winters Long; Somebody Told You; Ruler Of My Heart; (You Ain’t) Hittin On Nothing; For Goodness Sake;Look Up (aka Whenever); Your Love Is True (Demo); It’s Too Soon To Know (Demo)
You Can Have My Husband ; Cry On ; I Won’t Cry ; Ruler Of My Heart ; I Done Got Over ; It’s Raining ; Shame, Shame,Shame; Hip Shakin’ Mama; Lady Marmalade; Wish Someone Would Care.
This 2 CD retrospective of Irma Thomas’ early sixties recordings at Ron, Minit and Bandy is presented as an attractively packaged sound-book with full – coloured graphics and liner notes from Bob Fisher. The lead CD is peppered with New Orleans classics of the period that include her first recording for Joe Ruffino’s Ron imprint ‘ Don’t Mess With My Man’ and continue via a highly productive period at Minit Records where labours such as ‘Ruler Of My heart’, Two Winters Long’, and ‘It’s Raining’ each one penned by Allen Toussaint have more than stood the test of the preceding fifty years before concluding with her brief one off appearance at Bandy with ‘For Goodness Sake’. There is nothing here that hasn’t been available on a CD for years but with hardly a poor cut on show anyone starting afresh on the talent that is Irma Thomas should invest for some musical dividends that will charm and delight.
CD2 includes a live recording of Thomas at the 1976 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival. There’s no doubting the enthusiasm of the audience or the quality of the vocals with Thomas holding some impressively high notes. Yet as a listening experience it doesn’t really work - covers of Patti Labelle’s ‘Lady Marmalade’ and ‘Johnny Adam’s ‘I Won’t Cry’ here speeded up and almost unrecognisable pale in comparison against the originals . I enjoyed Irma’s version of the NOLA standard ‘Shame, Same, Shame’, a song that always works in a live environment but the misandry of her rap on her own standard ‘Wish Someone Would Care’ left me cold. CD2 is thus one for the Thomas’ completists of which there are no doubt many.