Ann Peebles - Brand New Classics - 2006
By Mike Atherton for Britains' Echoes Magazine
The return of two legendary names from the past: Track Records, the label which gave us Jimi Hendrix and The Who, not to mention fine Detroit soul sides by The Parliaments and Al Kent, and Ann Peebles, the diminutive dynamo of a diva who scored hit after hit on Memphis-based Hi Records in the Seventies.
At first glance this looks as if it could be one of those faded-star-does-her-hits-live sets, as Peebles faves like I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down, You Keep Me Hanging On and I Can't Stand The Rain feature amongst the 16 tracks. But, though much of it was recorded in front of a live studio audience, this is no cheap cash-in, and there's nothing the least bit faded about Miss Peebles - or Mrs. Bryant, as she has been for many years. Hubby Don, no mean recording artist himself, has a guest spot on the gospel tune Spread and shows that his voice is still fully intact, too.
Backed by her aptly-named Dream Team band, drums, acoustic and electric guitars and a juicy but controlled Hammond organ, Ann brings maturity and a sense of warm intimacy to those old songs, without losing an ounce of their soul content. She is adept at bringing out the shades and nuances of a lyric, as demonstrated on the bluesy Walk Away and the beautiful, anthemic and autobiographical I'm So Thankful. Amongst the newer numbers are her version of Foreigner's I Wanna Know What Love Is and the Stones' Miss You, two songs which fit seamlessly into her repertoire. On the latter she's backed by her old Memphis homeboys Hodges, Hodges and Grimes, veterans of innumerable Hi sessions.
Of course, I Can't Stand The Rain is here, sassier and funkier than we remember it, a pleasing contrast to the mellow vibes of most of the set. Ann Peebles may have been quiet for a while, but she still has the star quality which this writer witnessed when he saw her at the 100 Club nearly 30 years ago. That star shines from every track of this warm, uplifting and lovely album.
01. I'll Get Along
02. (You Keep Me) Hanging On
03. I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down
04. I Want To Know Love Is
05. Walk Away
06. Steal Away - I Still Love You
07. The Handwriting Is On The Wall
08. Love Vibration
09. I'm So Thankful
10. Feel Like Breaking Up Some
11. Chase These Blues Away
12. Miss You
13. Tears In Heaven
14. I Can't Stand The Rain