Find Marcia Ball on top of her game with some utterly raucous, yet refined, piano work and sensational vocals delivered with an experience attained only through working the field. Marcia's Louisiana approach to the piano brings her in tune with some of the qualified studio help on this disc, including her musical beatmaster/drummer and co-producer Doyle Bramhall. With bits of barrelhouse, shadows of the boogie, and straight-laced jazzy yet eloquent piano accompaniment; Marcia pushes the envelope further with road-tested and fully elegant vocal takes.
Working with Ball and Bramhall on this biscuit are guitarists: Pat Boyack, Derek O'Brien, C.C. Adcock, the acoustic guitar of Casper Rawls, and guest Sonny Landreth providing his slide take on it all. Don Bennett and Roscoe Beck provide the bass tones to go with Bramhall's drumming. Keith Robinson contributes to the drum beat, Riley Osbourn comes in on the Hammond B-3, and Gary Primich turns it up on the harp. Horn players include: Mark Kazanoff, Pat Breaux, Paul Klemperer, Brad Andrew, and Don Torosian share chores on the saxes; and Wayne Jackson puts it out on the trumpet. Van Mouton gives us the washboard, and Breaux also lends his accordion expertise to the mixture. Background vocalists include Susanne Abbott, Bonnie Bishop, and Kristin Dewitt.; and one duet features Delbert McClinton singing with Marcia.
Four originals by Ball: "Louella," "Shake A Leg," "Somebody To Love," and "She's So Innocent" top the selections. She has also co-written the opening done-somebody-wrong-song "Scene Of the Crime." She plays and sings her heart out on illustrious cuts like Allen Toussaint's "You Make It Hard," Wayne Jackson's "Fly On The Wall," and Don Covay's "I'm Coming Down With the Blues." She sheds more than tears on Brenda Burns' "I Have The Right To Know"; kicks the Cajun gear in the bottom on Bramhall's "Thibodaux, Louisiana"; and further applies her Gulf musical heritage on her "Somebody To Love."
It's another coup for Alligator in signing Marcia, and with this release it looks like the beginning of a great relationship. Leaving the production chores with Ball and Bramhill seems to allow a geographical lean towards the material they are most comfortable with. This album represents a piano player working in a manner that has given rise to her audience and fame. Comfortably flirting with boogie, jazz, barrelhouse, and ragtime inclinations, Marcia Ball has put together a splendid outing that sports contemporary visions and executions. Marcia's fans will be enthralled, new listeners will become Marcia fans, and persons disappointed with her past efforts will miss something solid ignoring this!
Alligator Records; P.O. Box 60234; Chicago, IL 60660; or, www.alligator.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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