Memphis 3rd & Beale ...
- 24-7-365 - 3:23 -
- Rainy Night in Memphis - 3:07
- I Don't Need No Man Like That - 3:08
- If I Had You - 3:50
- Red Cadillac & the Blues - 2:38
- No Headstone On My Grave - 4:55
- The Road Comes To Me - 3:49
- All Night Long - 3:23
- Careful Blues - 5:07
- Lie No Better - 3:43
- Lake Charles - 6:00
- One Good Man - 4:53
- You Can't Stop My Love - 2:50
* Sample Song in music box
BARBARA SAYS, "I wondered how we were gonna top SELL MY JEWELRY. And somehow, song by song we just did".
There is a lot of love surrounding this project, AMEN.
This is Barbara's 3rd CD and the 2nd recorded with The Phantom Blues Band @ULTRATONE STUDIO in sunny Studio City, CA. Barbara was accompanied by two of Memphis' top female singer/songwriters, Nancy Apple & Susan Marshall. With the addition of the Sacred Heart Band background singer Julie Dalgado, there was attitude, sweet soul sounds & harmonies goin' on. Definetely icing on the cake.
As an EXTRA Special treat the one & only Mike Finnigan joins Barbara on track 13 "You Can't Stop My Love" in a duet penned by Memphis' own Nancy Apple.
Produced by Tony Braunagel/Barbara Blue
Engineered by John Porter and Johnny Lee Schell
Mixed by Johnny Lee Schell
Mastered by L. Nix & Co., Inc./Inside Ardent Studios/Memphis TN
Recorded at Ultratone Studio - Studio City, California
Lead Vocals: Barbara Blue
Bass: Larry Fulcher
Keyboards: Mike Finnigan
Guitars: Johnny Lee Schell
Drums and Percussion: Tony Braunagel
Texicali Horns: Joe Sublett, tenor sax and Darrell Leonard, trumpet
Background vocals: Susan Marshall, Nancy Apple & Julie Dalgado on tracks 1, 3, 4, & 10. Johnny Lee Schell on track 11
Special guest appearance by John "JUKE" Logan on Harmonica.
- Blue Productions
With roof-raising pipes that recall Janis Joplin and Etta James, it's no suprise that Barbara Blue's third album contains songs associated with both of those icons. Since she also nails Charlie Rich's "Don't Put No Headstone On My Grave" and Lucinda William's swampy "Lake Charles", it's clear that the Memphis fixture's waters run to a variety of tributaries. more
Barbara Blue has been a staple on the Beale Street music scene for a number of years, appearing regularly down at Silky O’Sullivans Bar. Her third CD, 3rd and Beale, shows that she has one foot rooted in the deep blues that characterizes Memphis as a Delta town, while the other foot is immersed in the soul of the city’s Stax and Hi heyday of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Barbara’s deeply soulful voice will invoke comparisons to Etta James and Janis Joplin, to name a few. On this set, she’s also backed by Taj Mahal’s Phantom Band, including Johnny Lee Schell on guitar, Mike Finnigan on keys, Larry Fulcher on bass, and Tony Braunagel on drums, who also doubles as the set’s producer. Special guest John “Juke” Logan adds harp on a few cuts as well, and the Texicali Horns of Darrell Leonard and Joe Sublett put the Stax touch on the whole package! Barbara really lets loose on this one, fans! The leadoff tale of love “24-7-365,” is punctuated by the horns and some fine backing vocals from Nancy Apple, Julie Delgado, and Susan Marshall. “Shuffle All Night Long” has a boogie beat that made us think of some more famous Memphians, Z Z Top. Even though things might be falling apart all around her, she’s still got her “Red Cadillac and the Blues.” Barbara’s take on Lucinda Williams’ “Lake Charles” qualifies it as a true southern-soul classic. And, Barbara’s autobiography can be summed up in her tale of years spent on the road as now “The Road Comes To Me.” As good as these cuts are, we still had three favorites. “One Good Man” is all she’s seeking, and it invokes all the power of Janis Joplin’s original, with some fine lead work from Johnny Schell. The slow-burning groove of “Careful Blues” has Barbara’s vocal delivery perfectly complemented by Juke Logan’s harp. And, “Don’t Put No Headstone On My Grave” puts a seriously-soulful spin on the Charlie Rich original. As she sings in “Rainy Night In Memphis,” “meet me at silky’s bar and chill.” On your next trip to Memphis, be sure and check out Barbara Blue in a live setting. And, here’s hoping that “3rd And Beale” will earn her a Best New Artist Handy nod come next spring! Until later . . .. .
--- Sheryl and Don Crow ---
Barbara Blue returns to the scene with another heaping helping of Memphis soul and blues, compliments of her latest CD, Memphis 3rd and Beale (BIG Blue Records). Backed by stellar support from the Phantom Blues Band and some of the funkiest horns heard since the Stax era from the Texicali Horns, Blue brings her A-game to Memphis 3rd and Beale. Her vocals, a potent mix of both Etta James and Janis Joplin, are always a pleasure to hear and she really outdoes herself on several tracks, including a reading of Charlie Rich's "Don't Put No Headstone On My Grave," that would surely bring a smile to the Silver Fox's face. Though Blue does a great job on the bluesier numbers (like "The Road Comes To Me," "Careful Blues," and "Red Cadillac & The Blues"), to me she really shines on the soul tracks, like the opening cut, "24-7-365", which sounds for all the world like it came straight from Stax. Other soulful highlights include "Rainy Night In Memphis", and "If I Had You". As on Blue's previous release, Sell My Jewelry, there are covers of songs by Lucinda Williams ("Lake Charles") and Janis Joplin ("One Good Man"), both of which Blue handles easily. Equally comfortable singing the blues or soul, Barbara Blue continues to improve and impress with each subsequent release. .
--- Graham Clarke ---
I recently heard Memphis blues singer Barbara Blue referred to as the “Human Jukebox” because of her standing gig at Silky O’Sullivan’s on Beale Street in Memphis. On my first trip to Memphis back in 2003, Barbara was the first Memphis singer I got to see perform live, where she covered any and all types of songs that anyone could imagine. However, before labeling the talented Ms. Blue as a lounge singer, you really need to listen to her latest release Memphis 3rd & Beale on her own label, Big Blue Records.
As was the case on her last release, Sell My Jewelry, Barbara is once again backed by a great band, including members of Taj Mahal’s Phantom Blues Band, John “Juke” Logan and the Texicali Horns (Joe Sublett & Darrell Leonard). On Memphis 3rd & Beale, Blue takes her turn through thirteen fine songs including covers of songs by Charlie Rich, Janis Joplin and Lucinda Williams, along with her own compositions and those with writing credit shared with Nancy Apple. As with her effort on Sell My Jewelry, Barbara puts her heart and soul into every song on the new CD and the strong backing band, makes her sound fantastic.
Memphis 3rd & Beale opens with the classic soul tune, “24-7-365", featuring the Texicali Horns and Barbara’s soulful vocals. The fine opener is followed by the J.D. Garrison original “Rainy Night In Memphis,” a song that features a lot of John “Juke” Logan harp and Barbara singing what is an obviously personalized tune that references her regular gig at Silky O’Sullivan’s. Two more Memphis style soul tunes are up next, penned by Bobby Boyd; “I Don’t Need No Man Like That” discusses the problem of dealing with a man that is obviously taking what he can get, while giving as little in return as possible. “If I Had You” goes the opposite direction with Barbara pining away for the man of her dreams and the one that everyone else would covet as their dream man as well. After a nice blues shuffle entitled “Red Cadillac & The Blues” featuring some nice guitar by Johnny Lee Schell, Barbara opens up her soul on the Charlie Rich classic, “Don’t Put No Headstone On My Grave.” On this classic tune, Barbara proves that she can burn a torch as well as any female singer out there.
As Memphis 3rd & Beale crosses the halfway point, the first of three Blue-penned or co-penned songs, “The Road Comes To Me” makes its appearance. Blue admittedly doesn’t care much for the road, preferring her “home base” on Beale Street. The song, an apt follow-up to her previous “I hate the road” song on Sell My Jewelry, “Road Blues,” seems to suggest that despite her resistance of working the road, sometimes the call of the road cannot be ignored and touring is a necessary evil. The following song “(Shuffle) All Night Long” was co-written by Blue and Nancy Apple and features a distinct ZZ Top feel with its Texas boogie beat and Johnny Lee Schell’s guitarwork. The Barbara Blue trilogy is completed with the slow, burning blues entitled “Careful Blues” a song that includes great harp by John “Juke” Logan and piano work by Mike Finnigan, with some serious burning guitar by Schell thrown in for good measure.
Memphis 3rd & Beale heads down the home stretch with three classic tunes; “Lie No Better” a Gary Nicholson/Delbert McClinton classic; Lucinda William’s country-soul masterpiece, “Lake Charles”; and peaking with a cover of the Janis Joplin tune “One Good Man”. Blue does justice to covering Joplin tunes (she did “Turtle Blues” on her previous recording), simply because she has a very Joplinesque voice and can exude the same type of emotional outrage in her voice. The CD concludes with another Nancy Apple tune, “You Can’t Stop My Love,” a honky tonk blues duet with Mike Finnigan, featuring Finnigan’s piano and a sound not unlike that of by Dr. John.
Memphis 3rd & Beale is another excellent self-produced recording by Ms. Barbara Blue and another presentation that should make it increasingly hard for the talented singer to remain “hidden” on Beale Street. In my opinion, she deserves much more recognition, its just a matter of how much “fame” she actually wants. Anyone interested in learning more about Barbara Blue can visit her website at www.barbarablue.com where you can check out her biography, review her tour schedule and pick up any of her CD’s including her latest, Memphis 3rd & Beale.
The songwriting, the singing, the style, the music, the everything ... it's all executed just so perfectly on this album from Barbara Blue that, ironically for being in the "sad" genre of the Blues, this CD is nothing but pure joy from start to finish.
The only miniscule blemish is in the mix. While most of the time said mix is really wonderful, at times Barbara's incredible vocals threaten to overwhelm the texture too much in places by perhaps being too in front of the sound of the wonderful music. But this is an extreme (and virtually the only) nitpickety nitpick of this baker's dozen collection of gems.
If the glorious horn sound by the Texicali Horns doesn't grab you when the first cut starts, the amazing beat will. For this fine cut, entitled "24-7-365," brilliantly penned by John Herron and Greg Sutton, you hear Barbara Blue's oh-my-God-is-she-really-white virtuoso pipes grind and wail epitomizing what the Memphis Blues are all about. (And what a kick-ass solo by Joe Sublett in the last bridge!) J. D. Garrison turned "Rainy Night In Memphis" into a personal song for Ms. B as it refers to a special haunt of hers ... the renowned Silky O'Sullivan's in Memphis. Her phrasing in this tune couldn't be more perfect if she tried, and the keyboard colors are fantastic. More amazing horn sound, kicky guitars, and some of the most amazing chorus builds in any Blues record I have heard in ages make Ms. B's take on Bobby Boyd's "I Don't Need No Man Like That" into an aural drug of heroin-like proportions. I dare you to try to stay still when you hear this tune. And could those chords in the first bridge be any more excitingly gorgeous? I think not. (Kudos to Nancy Apple for her amazing contribution to the background vocals here, as well as for writing some of the killer stuff on this CD.)
A more deeply grooved and, if you will, Bluesier take on an another Boyd tune "If I Had You," thrills in more glorious horn color and shows that even when Ms. Blue's phrasing is a bit more laid-back, it still burns white hot. Barry Shaw's "Red Cadillac And The Blues" — this amazing voice, bass, and piano work to die for (by Larry Fulcher and Mike Finnigan, respectively), lines so perfect like "Lost my job..And that ain't fair"- does Memphis Blues get any more perfectly done that this? Is she actually channeling Janis Joplin on Charlie Rich's "Don't Put No Headstone on My Grave"? Sure as hell sounds like it from the goose bumps her take on this tune causes.
A special treat is the "Heartbreak Hotel"-ish song written by Ms. B herself entitled "The Road Comes to Me." The piano licks, the horn color ... everything, again, is just perfectly in its place except for my desire that maybe the tempo is dragging just a hair ... two or three metronome clicks faster for me would make this cut yet another masterpiece. One of those tunes contributed by Nancy Apple is "Shuffle (All Night Long)." This cut is another tune so scintillatingly screamy that you could indeed listen to it all night long and never tire of it!
"Careful Blues," co-written by Ms. B herself, features some wonderfully wailing harmonica from John Logan, again giving us another cut of Memphis Blues at its finest. "Lie No Better" gets a more of a Rock Blues sort of reading to great effect. The Joplin-penned "One Good Man" has an almost-creepy sounding keyboard sound at the end -- touches like that along with these phenomenal vocals make this tune another sandpapery charmer. Ms. Apple solo wrote the final cut, the honky tonky vaudevillian gem "You Can't Stop My Love" -- a tune full of sassiness, sexiness, and swagger in the gritty color of an old-78. The highlight of the album for me though is Ms. Blue's better-than-the-original take on Lucinda Williams' (whom I worship -- so this is a mighty big compliment) "Lake Charles." The sheer sonic beauty of this song about lies and love along the Texas/Louisiana border has so many lovely piano chords ... so much lush phrasing ... and so many pangs of gorgeousness ... that it's almost too beautiful to listen to. For a lady to be able to caress a song like this and make a masterpiece out of it ... and then alternately to be able to wail her guts out on other cuts - well, I just have to say it again ... Memphis Blues delivery simply doesn't get much closer to perfect than this. Get this CD. NOW
P. Kellach Waddle is a contributing writer at BluesWax.
Barbara Blues e-mail address begins memphisqueen, and if that is an indication that she is known as the city’s ‘Queen of the Blues’, then there will be no arguments from me, as this lady has talent in abundance, which no doubt explains the fact that her backing band is none other than Taj Mahal’s Phantom Blues Band featuring the Texicali Horns of Joe Sublett (sax) and Darrell Leonard (trumpet).
The set opens with ‘24-7-365’, BB strutting her stuff over a funky Stax styled horn riff, repeating the formula on ‘Rainy Night In Memphis’, but this time the funky riffs courtesy of Mike Finnigan’s B3 and John ‘luke’ Logan’s harp, giving this track a bluesier feel. The Stax sound rears it’s head again on ‘I Don’t Need No Man Like That’, but this time BB voice mines a soulful R&B groove that is accentuated by Johnny Lee Schell’s funky guitar chording.
‘If I Had You’ veers into deep soul territory, the backing vocals, baying horns and Joe Sublett’s smokey sax solo echoing the poignancy of BB’s vocals, which then take on a gritty arrogance, underpinned by Finnigan’s percolating B3 and Schell’s succinct guitar on ‘Red Cadillac & The Blues’. Charlie Rich’s ‘Don’t Put No Headstone On My Grave’ is transformed into a deeply impassioned late night blues, baying horns and rolling piano swathed by Finnigan’s B3 enhancing the perception of BB as a female Ray Agee.
If the first half of this set highlights BB’s soul and R&B credentials, the second sees her getting “down and dirty” as her overtly sexual vocals ride a Muddy styled guitar riff on ‘The Road Comes to Me’, the “down in the alley” feel accentuated by moaning horns and slow rocking piano, a premise that is repeated on the brooding ‘Careful Blues’ with it’s stomping piano and Junior Wells styled harp (Logan). ‘One Good Man’ continues in the same vein, as BB oozes sexual arrogance on this churning blues that reminds me of Muddy’s ‘You Need Love’, Schell’s guitar chiming as like BB he struts his sexuality proudly.
The Tex-Mex influenced ‘countrified’ soul of ‘Lake Charles’ and the gritty duet with Mike Finnigan on the Dixie influenced 5O's styled R&B of ‘You Can’t Stop My Love’ are further highlights of this impressive set.
Blue’s ‘3rd and Beale’ builds on proven mix
Memphis 3rd & Beale
Big Blue Records
* * * 1/2
“Don’t fix what isn’t broke” could have been the title of Barbara Blue’s latest CD, which builds on the
"blues-print” of her outstanding 2001 release Sell My Jewelry.
Back again are members of Taj Mahal’s Handy-winning Phantom Blues Band, including drummer Tony Braunagel, who co-produced the Los Angeles-recorded album with Blue. And she again uses some of the same song sources to fine effect with notably telling covers of Janis Joplin (“One Good Man”) and Lucinda Williams, whose “Lake Charles” becomes a country-soul masterpiece.
Local favorite Nancy Apple (who sings backup here with vocal great Susan Marshall) also puts in a return songwriting appearance on two selections, the sassy barrelhouse closer “You Can’t Stop My Love,” and the co-penned “(Shuffle) All Night Long,” a big old boogie that finds some of Apple’s hang time with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons having rubbed off.
It’s all the perfect foil for the singing talents of Blue, who has emerged one of our city’s grandest, gutsiest voices. There’s a reason she covers someone like Joplin: because she can. Blue’s voice wrings every sweet-and-sour emotion out of these songs, chewing up the scenery as she goes with a bigger-than-life delivery.
That counts for her own contributions — such originals as the Bobby Bland-worthy “The Road Comes to Me” — as well as Charlie Rich’s classic, “Don’t Put No Headstone on My Grave,” so halting a reading from both singer and band you’ll need a moment to gather your thoughts before you continue.
And when she sings “Rainy night in Memphis, meet me out at Silky’s bar and chill,” know it’s truth in advertising. Barbara Blue performs weekly at the Beale Street establishment, Wednesdays through Sundays. Get your autographed copy there.
Recorded in Los Angeles with members of Taj Mahal’s Phantom Blues Band (and with locals Nancy Apple and Susan Marshall), Barbara Blue’s 3rd & Beale is, at its best, a classic soul record that even one of Blue’s professed heroes, Etta James, would be proud to have made.
Blue, as her moniker suggests, is known as a blues singer, and deservedly so. On 3rd & Beale she dabbles successfully in several blues styles, from the relatively light bar-band blues of “Red Cadillac & The Blues” to the depths of Charlie Rich’s “Don’t Put No Headstone on My Grave.” And she tips her hat to New Orleans with, of all things, “Rainy Night in Memphis” and the piano-driven parlor tune “You Can’t Stop My Love.”
But despite her blues bona fides, 3rd & Beale makes the case that Blue — whose regular gig is as the human jukebox at Silky O’Sullivan’s — may really be a deep soul singer in an era without many. Blue shows her affinity for Stax/Hi-style soul, her gravelly vocals riding these classic-sounding grooves over a very Memphis bed of punchy horn charts, funky yet elegant Steve Cropper-style guitar licks (guitarist Johnny Lee Schell is the prime co-star here), and gospel-bred background vocals on standout tracks like “24-7-365, “Don’t Need No Man Like That,” and the more intense slow-burn of ”If I Had You”.