A weekend of highs and lows it’s been, my dearly beloved, and if you’re either high with emotion over a fantastic win by South Korea, or still crying in your beer over Edward Scissorhands’ moment of shame, then either way I have the balm to soothe your souls, if you’re a soul fan. Despite my misgivings below, I urge you to try them both, as the voices are the thing here.
The magnificent Eduardo over at 17 Seconds has a cogenntly argued review (as always) of the new Kelis album, and was surprised when I told him there was a Peel Session floating around. Well, on the heels of her debut release, Kaleidoscope, the BBC booked her for one, and Peel related that somebody (probably the man himself, who was a bit of a sucker for grinding, velvety soul) asked her to do a selection of soul standards, as he admitted she had a great voice, and apparently the lass was very keen to do it. However, there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip, and she didn’t have enough time to rehearse new material (one imagines….), so we ended up getting versions of four cuts from the LP (including the well-known hate song Caught Out There). John was understandably disappointed, but hoped she would come in again and acquiesce. As we know, this never came about, and what we are left with is a bit of an anomaly in the Peel Session canon: warmed-over stuff that he would normally have run a mile from playing, and which ran contrary to the whole spirit of the thing. John wanted artists to do material they would never normally perform (e.g. Chumbawamba doing Abba songs-just the ticket). However, three of these were also singles, and there’s a hint not only of self-promotion but also a lost opportunity.
Kelis, Peel Session
Good Stuff/Get Along With You/Mafia/Caught Out There
That might also conceivably be said of the other soul session I have for you today. John was rabidly keen on Ann Peebles’ best-known song, I Can’t Stand The Rain, which oddly enough was never a hit on these shores and I only got to know via the discofied Eruption cover (which is actually not all that bad), and Top Gear got the Memphis soul diva in with a six-piece ensemble of unknown musicians, called them the Red Dog Band, and her only session was born. Again, despite the excellent production, three of the tracks came from the then-current LP, but JP was obviously more won over by this, since he repeated it on Peel’s Pleasures eight years later. On playing another record of hers some three decades later, John admitted that he knew nothing of her whereabouts, and speculated that she might be living in poverty or even dead. Luckily, neither was the case, and she released Brand New Classics in 2006, which, as the title might suggest, is some of her old stuff done acoustic-stylee. Well, we’ve all got to make a buck somehow, and in Rain and I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down, Ann contributed two classic soul evergreens to the catalogue. (Whoever mentioned Paul Young and Tina Turner, see me after class.)
Ann Peebles, Peel Session
You Keep Me Hanging On/Slipped Tripped And Fell In Love/I Can’t Stand The Rain/Do I Need You