THOSE WOMEN OF THE VAUDEVILLE BLUES
Lake Records LACD18 1990 17 Tracks 45 min.
Miss Jenny's Ball, Aggravatin' Papa, Handy Man, Barrelhouse Blues, It's Tight Like That, Moanin' The Blues, Mighty Tight Woman, Trouble In Mind, Hot Time In The Old Town, Last Journey Blues, Wild Women Don't Get The Blues, Dark Man, I Got A Mind To Ramble, St. Louis Blues, Women Don't Need No Mens, Nobody Knows You, Some Of These Days.
Based on the stage show of the same title this CD has an interesting effect on people: they either love it or hate it. An example: I lent it to a colleague at work, he loved it, his wife and kids hated it, and a neighbour who professed to be a blues buff got confused by it. Personally I find it fascinating. I had bought Marilyn's cassette a couple of years back, and the CD is similar in material, but a lot different in presentation. Whereas the tape features a standard jazz band line up the CD is truer to the recordings of the original female blues artists whose material is used. All tracks use piano for backing, whilst many also have clarinet, sax, and trumpet in various mixes. If, like me, you have the re-issued Bessie Smith recordings, you will know that this is how it was. If you buy this CD listen out for the bass clarinet, it sure sounds different. If you like listening to the blues, this has all types covered; the lively Miss Jenny's Ball, the saucy "Handy Man', tear jerker "Trouble in Mind", feminist "Women Don't Need No Mens", and everything in between. Marilyn herself is a great blues singer with great expression, and Andy Thorburn, Dick Lee, and Phil Morris who back her are very professional. Like real ale, it may not be everyone's taste, but screw up some courage because the more you try it the more you like it.
LAKE LCD35 1994 16 tracks, 51 min
You've Been A Good Old Wagon, Don't Care Blues, Can't Help Loving That Man Of Mine, One Sweet Letter, You've Got The Right Key, But The Wrong Key Hole, Squeeze Me, Moanin' Low, On Revival Day, Jazz Me Blues, Washing The Blues From My Soul, I Had Someone Else Before I had You, Am I Blue ?, Big Bad Bill, See See Rider, How Do They Do It That Way ?, Everybody Loves My Baby
Following on from her stage show, and CD "Women Of The Vaudeville Blues" Marilyn has featured in a new stage show "Jazz Me Blues" and a new CD, that although not an album of the show does contain many of the same songs. The source singers are many and varied, reflecting the many styles of the "Blues" type songs being sung. This CD features a full band, rather than the more historically correct solo, or very small, backing groups used on Marilyn's earlier CD, and myself I prefer the fuller sound. As anyone who has read my CD reviews will know, I have a fondness for women jazz singers, and Marilyn is a good one, perhaps the best of the current exponents. The backing is by Lake Records All-Star Jazz Band, and they provide excellent support, always in sympathy with the singer, never dominating, yet powerful in their own right.
As already mentioned; the material is varied both in source and content. Saucy songs such as "You've Been A Good Old Wagon" and "You've Got The Right Key, But The Wrong Key Hole", sad songs like "Moanin' Low" and "See See Rider", up beats like "Everybody Loves My Baby", comedy with "Big Bad Bill " and a rocking spiritual in "On Revival Day". Marilyn sings something for everyone. Perhaps that sums up the album best, as I can see this CD appealing to more than just the jazz enthusiasts her previous albums tended to attracted.
MARILYN MIDDLETON-POLLOCK & STEVE MELLOR'S CHICAGO HOODS*
RED HOT & BLUE
Lake LACD42 1995 16 tracks 62 min
Don't Try Your Jive On Me, Roll On Mississippi, Black & Tan Fantasy*, Bugle Boy March*, I've Got Ford Engine Movement In My Hips, Come Back Sweet Papa*, Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime, Harlem Bound*, Once In A While*, When I take My Sugar To Tea, That Lovin' Rag, Indian Summer*, Wa, Wa, Wa*, Kiss Me Sweet, Saturday Night Function*, The Devil's Gonna Get You.
From the first growl of 'Don't Try Your Jive On Me' to the farewell bark of 'The Devil's Gonna Get You' this CD is lively and entertaining. Marilyn Middleton-Pollock has been around for a while now and this is her fourth album of jazz and blues on the Lake label. This time the lady comes with her own band. Steve Mellor's Chicago Hoods are very good and, as their name suggests, play Chicago style jazz on a variety of driving and melodic numbers(*). Key man is the leader Steve Mellor. Steve is the reeds man and his power and versatility is impressive, though I am still having difficulties coping with him turning 'Bugle Boy March' into a soprano sax feature ! The rest of the front-line comprises of the punching trumpet of Ian Royle and that excellent jazzman Paul Munnery on trombone which he frequently mutes to great effect. I must admit that, in view of the numerical mix, that the Chicago Hoods should have had top billing instead of Marilyn; not that I am bitching at the mix, rather that I did not get what I thought I was buying. But I have no real complaint as putting Marilyn's name up front ensured that I bought the CD. The lady herself performs to her usual high standard (can she really claim: 'I've Got Ford Engine Movement In My Hips' ? If only us poor Kiwis could get the chance to see the stage show we might be able to comment !) and I just love it when she sings those growling blues numbers. There is good jazz here with some very interesting arrangements; you even get a couple of duets featuring Paul and Marilyn. I have bought all of Marilyn's jazz albums to date and I look forward to buying some more, especially if she is going to be backed by the 'Hoods' !
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