Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Osborne proved herself a strong interpreter of classics on the soundtrack to Standing In The Shadows Of Motown, and most of her past decade has been spent on R'n'B in its many guises.  So this album is a bit of a no-brainer, but it's done the right way.  Osborne covers a variety of tracks by the masters, but, thank God, not the usual ones.  In fact, she's tried hard to pick relatively obscure ones.

Many of the writers' names are well-known, including Willie Dixon, Al Green, Otis Redding, Allen Toussaint, and Bill Withers.  The original performers, for the most part, are famous as well:  Ray Charles, Sonny Boy Williamson, Ike and Tina Turner.  But I can't tell you off the top of my head which album you'll find Green doing Rhymes, or Redding singing Champagne And Wine.  Kudos, Ms. Osborne, because in your hands, these sound like they must have been hits.  Equally adept at big, blustery ballads, and hard-driving numbers, she mixes up the tempos and styles to give a solid overview of everything from Deep South blues and New Orleans boogie, to Chicago electric and Memphis funk.

There are two that stand out however, and oddly they are the best-known.  Dixon's I Want To Be Loved, as done by Muddy Waters, is dark and dirty and sexy, with cooing backing vocals, nasty harp and a killer groove, topped off by her smouldering singing.  And she steals Slim Harpo's Shake Your Hips right back from Mick Jagger, barely changing a lick from the original, but again singing like a powerhouse.  This, lordy mama, is R'n'B like it's supposed to be, all muscle.

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