Thursday, 8 April 2010

Proper Music

While I was in Cape Town I came across a market stall near Greenmarket Square where a gentleman was selling CDs for the princely sum of R10 (which is less than one of your English pounds). Needless to say I took advantage of his almost insane generosity and picked up a few. One of them was "Smokin' In Bed" by Denise LaSalle. Denise is one of my favourite female soul singers - up there with Betty Wright and Millie Jackson in my opinion - so I consider this a bit of a bargain.

"Smokin' In Bed" was released in 1997 on Malaco Records. For most of the 1980s and 1990s Malaco was the most reliable source of "proper" soul and blues, and Denise was only one of any number of stalwarts who got a new lease of life when they signed up - Little Milton, Bobby Bland, Johnnie Taylor, the list is mightily impressive.

"Smokin' In Bed" is well up to the usual Malaco standards. There are a couple of dodgy moments when Denise misguidedly attempts a more contemporary sound, but mostly it is just good solid Southen soul and blues done like it should be. The highlights include these two self-penned tracks:

"Five Below Zero" - Denise LaSalle

"Why Am I Missing You?" - Denise LaSalle

In what can only be described as a travesty the only time Denise has had any success in the UK was when her rickety version of "Don't Mess With My Toot Toot" made the top ten in the 1980s. I can't find a clip of her performing it, but there is no shortage of alternatives. Here is the original from Rockin' Sidney, and a cover by John Fogerty who really ought to know better.



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