Posts Tagged ‘Lou Ann Barton’

R&B In The Fog

May 16, 2012

Originally posted April 10, 2009

After a few days of relative clarity – with the medication dosages for my ailing leg diminishing – I am once again in a fog this morning.

Yesterday afternoon, when the Texas Gal came home from work, we stood in the driveway and watched a squirrel dig in the ground, seeking some sort of treat. We routinely toss bread crusts out for the little guys, and I laughed as the Texas Gal told me about one she’d seen that morning, carrying a whole slice of bread in his mouth as he leaped from tree to tree.

Then we went to the back door and found all three cats waiting for us and hoping for a chance to slip outside. The Texas Gal blocked Oscar’s path, and I held off Cubbie Cooper. As we were distracted by the other two catboys, Clarence bolted between my ankles and out the door. I reacted instinctively, pushing Cubbie into the kitchen, then pivoting on my right foot and starting to run, pushing off with my right leg.

Not a good idea. My right leg is, of course, the leg that I hurt a week ago.

I managed to corral Clarence, and we got all three cats inside. But my leg was throbbing as it hadn’t for about three days, and twenty minutes later, I had to take a muscle relaxant and a pain-killer. And this morning it’s taking more effort to focus than I can spare for very long.

So I’m going to suggest that you folks do exactly what I did last evening and will do again today: just listen to some good music. Not long ago, a track popped up here from Dreams Come True, the R&B supersession album by singers Marcia Ball, Angela Strehli and Lou Ann Barton. (All of those links are to corresponding pages at All-Music Guide.) Last evening, I listened to more of the album, and I liked it even more than I did the first time I heard it. So here’s Dreams Come True.

Track list
A Fool In Love
Good Rockin’ Daddy
It Hurts To Be In Love
Love, Sweet Love
Gonna Make It
You Can If You Think You Can
I Idolize You
Dreams Come True
Bad Thing
Turn The Lock On Love
Something’s Got A Hold On Me
Snake Dance

Dreams Come True by Marcia Ball, Angela Strehli & Lou Ann Barton [1990]

My thanks go to azzul, as I found Dreams Come True at his excellent blog, nongseynyo. Sadly, azzul has quit posting new material; the blog now offers its archives without download links and lists current posts at a few other bluesy blogs. I – along with many others, I’m sure – miss the original nongseynyo. Thanks for everything, azzul!

And I thought that as long as I was sharing Dreams Come True in the middle of my repost festival, I’d make today “Lou Ann Barton Day”!

Old Enough by Lou Ann Barton [1982]
Original post here.

Forbidden Tones by Lou Ann Barton [1986]
Original post here.

Read My Lips by Lou Ann Barton [1989]
[With bonus tracks]
Original post here.

Just Like A Baseball Bat . . .

May 16, 2012

Originally posted April 3, 2009

Every once in a while, as I follow sports, I come across an athlete talking about pulling a hamstring. “It was like being hit with a baseball bat in the back of my thigh” is a description I’ve read – or heard – many times. And I’ve thought two things:

First, that has to be overstatement. And second, even if it is overstatement, it can’t feel good.

Well, I learned late last evening that it’s not overstatement. And no, it doesn’t feel good.

I was helping the Texas Gal bring some things inside the house. As I turned to go up the short staircase that leads into the kitchen, something happened to my right leg. And it did in fact feel like I’d been hit with a baseball bat squarely in the back of my thigh. I grabbed at my thigh as I shouted and fell, my momentum leaving me sprawled on the kitchen floor with the cats backing away in alarm.

After a few minutes, it was obvious I’d done some severe damage, as I couldn’t straighten my leg without a lot of pain. The Texas Gal helped me get some shoes on, and we headed to the emergency room. Two hours later, we were on our way home, stopping at a pharmacy along the way.

The ER doctor told me that I managed somehow to put a good-sized tear in one of the muscles in the back of my thigh. The good news was that the tear came in the middle of the muscle, not where it attaches to the bone at either end. That, I’m sure, would have meant surgery. As it is, I’m on a regimen of pain killers, muscle relaxants and rest.

I can hobble around the house, and my thigh will heal. What with the pain killer, though, the world is in soft focus today, so I’m not going to write much more. We’ll let the following songs tell the tale.

A Six-Pack of Hurt
“Hurt So Bad” by Little Anthony & the Imperials, DCP 1128 [ 1965]

“It’s Gonna Hurt So Bad” by Doucette from Mama Let Him Play [1977]

“Bet No One Ever Hurt This Bad” by Linda Ronstadt from Hand Sown…Home Grown [1969]

“The Big Hurt” by the People’s Choice, TSOP 4769 (B-Side) [1975]

“It Hurts To Be In Love” by Marcia Ball, Angela Strehli & Lou Ann Barton from Dreams Come True [1990]

“It Hurts Me To My Heart” by the Soul Children from Genesis [1972]

The Little Anthony track is one of the classics of Brooklyn soul/R&B, with Anthony weeping and wailing above a maelstrom of strings and what sounds like tympani. The group’s fifth Top 40 hit in a string of seven hits that began in 1958, “Hurt So Bad” went to No. 10 in early 1965.

Doucette was a pop rock group from Quebec, Canada, that released a couple of decent albums in the late 1970s. Led by Jerry Doucette, the band is one I’d not heard about until a little bit ago when a fellow blogger mentioned it in an email. I went digging and found a rip of Mama Let Him Play and gave it a listen. To me, it falls into the Pablo Cruise/Little River Band category, with lots of smooth edges and tight harmonies. There are times when I prefer a few more rough edges, yes, but there are also days when Seventies smooth is quite nice.

“Bet No One Ever Hurt This Bad” came from Linda Ronstadt’s first album, during a time – says All-Music Guide – when Ronstadt began “to abandon the folk leanings of the Stone Poneys for a relaxed country-rock approach.” According to the liner notes for The Best of Linda Ronstadt: The Capitol Years (which gathers her first three albums and some extra tracks on two CDs), Ronstadt and producer Chip Douglas didn’t really find the country sounds Ronstadt was seeking. Nevertheless, she did a good job on “Bet No One Ever Hurt This Bad,” a Randy Newman tune.

“The Big Hurt” by the People’s Choice was the B-Side to the group’s single, “Do It Any Way You Wanna,” which went to No. 11 in the summer of 1975. Produced by Leon Huff, “The Big Hurt” sounds to me more like Chicago or Memphis than Philadelphia. It’s still good, though.

“It Hurts To Be In Love” is a track from a glorious grouping of three bluesy women singers: Marcia Ball, Angela Strehli and Lou Ann Barton. The entire Dreams Come True album is worth checking out, as the three women still hew to the roots while displaying some remarkable harmonies, backed by a band led by Dr. John (and including Jimmy Vaughn). Lou Ann Barton’s music has showed up here (and some will be reposted this month), but if anything by either of the other two women has showed up here, it’s been only in passing. That’s likely going to change. (Thanks to azzul for this one!)

The Soul Children have popped up here a couple of times before. A two-man, two-woman vocal group, the Children recorded several albums for Stax in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A slow and moody ballad, “It Hurts Me To My Heart,” is pretty representative of the Genesis album, which to my ears was a bit more subdued than the rest of the group’s body of work.

Here’s an album that several people have been anxious for me to offer again, Coming Back For More by William Bell. The original post is here.

Coming Back For More by William Bell (1977)

Lou Ann Barton Turns It Around

June 24, 2011

Originally posted April 18, 2008

The last time we saw Lou Ann Barton, it was for a listen to Forbidden Tones, her 1986 album that placed her gem of a bluesy Texas voice in a new wave setting. The result was pretty bad. How bad?

Well, I’m a pretty tolerant guy. I have a lot of music in the RealPlayer that I’m not wild about but that I don’t mind hearing occasionally because it brings with it a sense of its time, and it’s fun in small doses. With more than 26,000 mp3s in the player, the songs that I don’t particularly care for pop up only rarely. There is, however, stuff I’ve ripped but really have no interest in hearing at all, and that goes into a separate folder that never gets pulled into the RealPlayer. That’s where I put Forbidden Tones. (What else is in there? Well, there’s some of the early work of Duane and Gregg Allman with the Hourglass and the 31st of February, stuff that’s interesting historically but not a lot of fun; there’s some Jerry Riopelle, some Valerie Carter, some Lulu and what appears to be the complete works of Claudine Longet [the Texas Gal is a fan].)

Luckily for Lou Ann Barton fans, three years after trying to sound like “Elvis Costello & the Attractions fronted by a roadhouse belter,” as one admiring reviewer wrote, she went back to Texas blues and R&B for her third album, Read My Lips. Released on the Antone’s label out of San Antonio, the album is a fifteen-song return to form. (The LP release had twelve tracks; the CD release, which I’m sharing, has three extra tracks.)

The rhythm section had Jon Blondell on bass and George Rains on drums, and Barton and co-producer Paul Ray brought in a wealth of talent to add to that solid base. Guitarists on the LP (I don’t have the credits for the three extra tracks) were Jimmie Vaughan, Derek O’Brien, Denny Freeman and David Grissom; David “Fathead” Newman and Joe Sublett and Mark Kazanoff played sax; Mel Brown, Reese Wynans and Mike Kindred played various keyboards; Kim Wilson played harmonica, and Wilson, Fran Christina, Diana Ray and Paul Ray provided background vocals.

Highlights? I like the torchy “You’ll Lose A Good Thing,” and the remake of Faye Adams’ 1953 hit, “Shake A Hand” as well as Barton’s take on Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips” and her saucy version of “You Can Have My Husband.” And she remakes “It’s Raining,” which she recorded for her first album, Old Enough, doing a better job this time around. Those are the best tracks, but it’s not like the other tracks aren’t good – it’s a consistently fine album.

Sugar Coated Love
You’ll Lose A Good Thing
Sexy Ways
Shake A Hand
Good Lover
Mean Mean Man
Shake Your Hips
Te Ni Nee Ni Nu
Can’t Believe You Want To Leave
You Can Have My Husband
It’s Raining
Rocket In My Pocket
I Wonder Why
Let’s Have A Party
High Time We Went

Lou Ann Barton – Read My Lips [1989]

I thought as long as I was sharing Read My Lips, I’d go ahead and re-up Old Enough, Barton’s 1982 debut album, which a few people have requested. The track listing for Old Enough is:

I’m Old Enough
Brand New Lover
It’s Raining
It Ain’t Right
Finger-Poppin’ Time
Stop These Teardrops
The Sudden Stop
The Doodle Song
Every Night Of The Week

Lou Ann Barton – Old Enough [1982]

New Wave At The Roadhouse?

June 1, 2011

Originally posted January 7, 2008

My musical interests, passions and tolerances are pretty widespread. Although it wouldn’t be difficult for someone who does not know me to figure out from my CD, record and mp3 collections the types of music I like most – Sixties and Seventies rock and pop, blues and R&B – it would be a little harder for that observer to determine what types of music I don’t particularly like, as there is at least a little bit of almost everything in those collections.

But there are some genres of music – and some eras – that leave me less satisfied than others. Music from the 1980s, in general, leaves me cold. Oh, there was some stuff I liked – and some stuff I missed at the time that I’ve learned about since that I also like – but I tend to dismiss much of the music from that decade. Musical styles don’t split themselves neatly at decade lines, of course, and punk, for one, arose during the late 1970s, but to me, the Eighties was made up of punk, new wave, synthpop and a lot of other stuff that I wasn’t particularly interested in listening to. I kept my radio tuned to oldies and to a station near the Twin Cities that played a free-form jazz format that eventually numbed the brain. But that was okay; I wanted to be numb back then.

As I noted, there is at least a little bit of every kind of music in the vast numbers of CDs, records and mp3s I have, and there is more Eighties music – punk, new wave and synthpop included – than I would have anticipated owning twenty years ago. Still, the Eighties are clearly the least represented decade in my collection, as counted by mp3s in the RealPlayer:

1950s – 887
1960s – 4,679
1970s – 7,208
1980s – 1,811
1990s – 2,406
2000s – 2,460

(A note: The last time I ran this calculation, the Sixties and Seventies were just about equal. I’m in the process of recording vast numbers of mp3s to compact disc and trimming them from the RealPlayer. I’ve finished the Sixties and have yet to start on the Seventies; I anticipate the two decades will be roughly equal when I am finished.)

I was reminded this morning why I have less music from that decade than from others: I ripped mp3s from Forbidden Tones, a 1986 album by one of my favorite bluesy singers, Texan Lou Ann Barton, whose wonderful 1982 album, Old Enough, I shared here in March of last year. I’m not sure who decided to have Barton – the owner of one of the great R&B voices – record an album in a style than can only be described as “New Wave Goes to the Roadhouse.” As Barton self-produced the album, I can only assume that it was her own idea.

It didn’t work. I remember thinking so after I bought the LP in a St. Paul bookstore in 2000, and I came to the same judgment this morning while recording. I may be a minority in that assessment: Stewart Mason of All-Music Guide loved it, saying it shouldn’t work but it does. He notes that Barton’s cover of “Pink Bedroom,” the John Hiatt tune from which she took the album’s title, “sounds like a Get Happy-era Elvis Costello & the Attractions fronted by a roadhouse belter,” as if that’s a good idea. To my ears, it’s not. Nor was covering the Lennon-McCartney tune “Every Little Thing” in a style that seems to be an attempt to be ironic; Barton’s voice can do many things, but irony is not one of them.

It’s a brief album, clocking in at about twenty-seven minutes, and Barton brought into the studio some pretty good players, among them guitarists Richie Zito and Jimmie Vaughan and keyboard player Larry Knechtel.

Some might ask why I’m sharing the album if I so dislike it. Well, I know that tastes aren’t universal, and I imagine there are those folks who stop by here who will like it or who heard it when it came out and miss it. And as it’s out of print, well, here you go.

Tear Me Apart
Camero Girls
Every Little Thing
Pink Bedroom
Quittin Time
One Good Reason
Tears in the Night

Lou Ann Barton – Forbidden Tones [1986]

A Full Serving, Texas-Style

April 17, 2011

Originally posted March 16, 2007

Ah, yes, 1982. I don’t recall it all that well.

It’s not that I was in some kind of drug- or beer-induced haze, murmuring incoherently as the year passed by. No, I was working, spending my days reporting and writing for a weekly paper in a small Minnesota town, covering city councils, boys high school sports, crimes and fires and the thousands of other things that take place – both major and minor – in small-town America.

The year slid by without much to mark it. I turned twenty-nine, something that I greeted with a shrug. And not much happened that year in the world or in that small town that had to me very much of an impact. I was living a life.

Oh, things happened, of course, both in Monticello and in the world at large. In the latter category, one of the major events of the year was the brief war between Great Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, a war that Britain won fairly handily. It was interesting, perhaps even fascinating to watch via satellite as the British Navy sailed out to reclaim the small archipelago. But it didn’t seem to matter.

It did seem to matter when someone in the Chicago area went about buying Tylenol, taking it home, doctoring the capsules with cyanide and then placing the bottles of pain-killer back on store shelves. Seven people died. The murders have never been solved and were just the first in a series of product-tampering crimes over the next few years. Before that time, the tamper-proofing of products – extra seals and all – didn’t exist. It soon became the norm, as it remains today.

Now, I remember those things happening. I remember writing columns and new stories about them, commenting on the oddity of a war being treated like a football game, with previews and analysis, and writing about the fears of consumers and retailers when products previously thought safe could no longer be considered so.

But if you asked me what year they happened, I’d have to look them up, as I did today, checking in one of my numerous reference books to see what 1982 brought us.

Along with the two topics mentioned above, the year brought us a number of things: There was a brief but damaging recession in the U.S. One of the Unabomber’s bombs killed one person at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

On the more pleasant side of life, the first version of David Letterman’s late-night show debuted on NBC. EPCOT at Walt Disney World opened. Michael Jackson released Thriller, which – whatever one may think of Jackson and his behaviors and oddities – remains a great record.

But quite possibly the one event of 1982 that had the greatest impact on modern life went almost utterly unnoticed: Sony and its partner in the Netherlands, Phillips, developed the compact disc. For almost eighty years, records – first 78s, then later 45 and LPs – were the carrier of choice for recorded sound. When cassettes recorders came along in the 1960s, we were told that the day of records had passed and that tape would supplant records. It didn’t, mostly, I imagine, because it was awkward to cue a tape up to a specific song. So when CDs came along and their adherents claimed they would put an end to vinyl’s domination, I don’t think I believed it.

Even at that, I know I didn’t hear about CDs in 1982, when they were developed. I first heard about them when I was in graduate school a year or two later. And I followed news closely, which makes me wonder how many people both heard about the development of the technology and could foresee its impact in 1982. Not many, I don’t think.

So why am I reviewing 1982? Because that was also the year that Texas singer Lou Ann Barton made her way from her home base of Austin, Texas, to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where she recorded her first album, Old Enough, released later that year on Asylum Records.

Like the development of the CD, Barton’s record didn’t generate a lot of interest, and she’s recorded only sporadically since then, which is a shame. She is a true marvel, being in one moment as brazen and pushy as a rich girl on spring break and then turning as vulnerable as a still-hopeful wallflower during the night’s last dance. And she knows when to use which persona and all of those in between, which one could lay down to either instinct and genius or to a long resume of performances in bars and dance halls. I vote for a combination of the two.

Born in either Austin or Fort Worth – All-Music Guide oddly had both cities listed as Barton’s home town – Barton sang in the late 1970s with the Fabulous Thunderbirds and with Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble before branching out on her own. And for her debut record, producers Jerry Wexler and Glen Frey wisely sent her to Muscle Shoals. And backed by the legendary Swampers, Barton hands over a stellar piece of Texas-style blues-rock.

It’s hard to note highlights, because each of the record’s ten cuts is good, even “It’s Raining,” which AMG calls too slick, a judgment I’d dispute. The best cuts might be “I’m Old Enough” and “Every Night Of The Week,” but to my ears, the entire album is a pleasure.

(Old Enough was released on CD on Antone’s in 1993 and then on Discovery in 1997 but seems to have since gone out of print. Some copies are available through starting at about $20 through Amazon starting at about $13.)

Track list:

I’m Old Enough
Brand New Lover
It’s Raining
It Ain’t Right
Finger-Poppin’ Time
Stop These Teardrops
The Sudden Stop
The Doodle Song
Every Night Of The Week

Lou Ann Barton – Old Enough (1982)

Saturday Single No. 193

July 10, 2010

This week’s reasonable hoopla over the seventieth birthday of Ringo Starr reminded me of another little bit of the summer of 1970:

One of the guys from school was moving with his family to Duluth. My pal Mike and I thought we should call up a few other guys and spend an evening hanging around somewhere with Curt before he left for Minnesota’s Northland. We were, I think, in my basement talking about which guys we should call and where we should hang around when my mom got wind of our talk.

Why not have the party right here in our back yard? Decide on your guest list and we can see how many hot dogs and bottles of pop and how much potato salad we need.

Before we could figure out a way to explain that we weren’t thinking about anything as formal as a “party” – we were just gonna be a bunch of guys hanging around the back yard – she was off and running. Mike and I looked at each other and shrugged. Moms, you know.

And having Mom take the wheel and do the driving wasn’t all bad. It was actually kind of nice to able to call a bunch of guys and tell them we were having a picnic for Curt in our back yard. I invited maybe eight guys, and they all said they would come.

The problem came when Mom looked at our guest list and asked, “Why no girls?”

Before Mike and I could explain to her that it was unlikely that any girls would come to a gathering the two of us hosted – geeks at heart that we were – she told us that there had to be some girls who knew Curt and if we wanted to be fair, we had to give them a chance to say goodbye to him, too.

That left me, as the putative host of the picnic, with a problem. I had to decide which would be worse: making phone calls to eight high school girls to invite them to a gathering that I knew they would not attend, or trying to explain to my mom that those eight girls were simply not going to come to an event I hosted because I was a geek? I chose the phone calls.

And, as I expected, the attendance at the picnic was one hundred percent male. We had a good time, sharing some memories and some ribald jokes, talking about and listening to some music, and generally finding a nice way to say farewell to Curt. My mom was a bit put out that none of the girls came. First, she thought they were rude, and second, their absence meant she had more food than was called for. On the second point, my guests and I did enough damage to the victuals that Mom didn’t need to worry. On her first point, well, I don’t think the girls meant to be rude. I’d put them in a difficult position: Hurt someone by refusing his invitation, or ignore it and hope it goes away. Their unanimous adoption of the second choice might not have been approved by Emily Post, but hey, we were all kids in high school and awkward situations make for awkward solutions.

Besides, I think we guys had more fun than we might have had if the girls had been there.

So why did that little slice of the summer of 1970 come to light this week in association with Richard Starkey? Because Mike and I – hard-core Beatle fans that we were – realized early on that our gathering was taking place on July 7, which was Ringo’s thirtieth birthday. We mentioned that sometime early that evening, and the other guys pretty much yawned. So we shrugged and went on with the serious business of eating hot dogs and chips and laughing at stuff that was amusing, in all likelihood, only to high school boys.

I went through my library of Ringo’s music this morning, looking for a song to fit the tale, but nothing there really seemed to work. So I turned to other sources and found a suitable tune from Lou Ann Barton for today’s Saturday Single:

“Let’s Have A Party” by Lou Ann Barton from Read My Lips [1989]