Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Still Having Fun

Hello all! I'm back to my everyday activities, and so is this blog. As a welcome which befits a summer evening I thought one of the many monster songs of Arkansas-born Shirley Brown might be just the right choice.

From the back cover of Truth LP # 4206
In January '75, Shirley's debut album »Woman To Woman« was released on the Stax subsid- iary Truth (LP TRS-4206). She had recorded some songs back in 1972 but they went no- where, although they had been arranged and produced by Oliver Sain (who was active in the St. Louis music scene and during the '60s worked together with Fontella Bass, among others). Shirley then had a recording session in Memphis in 1974 that resulted in the songs of her debut album, »Woman To Woman« becoming her greatest hit (single release in Nov '74: Truth # 3206). In December, especially strong sales were reported from Chicago. Duck Dunn from Booker T & The MG's played bass in that session.

However, I always felt that the opening song of Shirley's first LP, »It Ain't No Fun«, really stands out, not only for being a 7-minute vocal tour-de-force (in the album version). The single version of that song was released some months after the album in May '75, reaching the upper 30s of the Billboard Soul Singles Charts in June and barely scratching the Hot 100 at #94. It arguably is one of the most moving (as well as vocally challenging) deep soul ballads ever recorded. And yes, there is a long spoken passage in the middle of the song but it nicely serves to highlight Shirley's soaring vocals in the final part.

Shirley Brown: »It Ain't No Fun« from the Truth LP # 4206:

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