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Ruth Brown - A Good Day For The Blues (1998)

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Ruth Brown - A Good Day For The Blues (1998)

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1 Good Day for the Blues Lindsey, Rector
2 Can't Stand a Broke Man Lindsey, Penn, Whitsett
3 Never Let Me Go Scott, Scott
4 Hangin' by a Shoestring Barnett, Street
5 H.B.'s Funky Fable, Brown
6 A Lover Is Forever Goodman, Knobloch
7 Ice Water in Your Veins, Otis play
8 True Gayten
9 Cabbage Head Traditional
10 The Richest One, Carter
11 Be Good to Me Tonight Lindsey, Penn, Whitsett play
12 I Believe I Can Fly, Kelly

Ruth Brown (vocals);
Duke Robillard (guitar);
Bill Easley (flute, tenor saxophone);
Victor Goines (clarinet, baritone saxophone);
Ray Moore (alto saxophone);
Charlie Miller (trumpet);
John Touchy (trombone);
Davell Crawford, Bobby Forrester (piano);
Akira Tana (drums).


Now in the third or fourth stage of her indefatigable career, the 71-year-old Ruth Brown settles further into the two-pronged, stylistic groove established on her 1997 Bullseye debut, R+B=Ruth Brown. Backed by a bevy of New Orleans jazz and soul vets, Brown delivers a series of horn-inflected, indigo ballads like "Never Let Me Go," "True," and "The Richest One" that unearth the blues with an unruffled dignity reminiscent of Nina Simone or a less fragile Billie Holiday. On most of the rest of the material, Brown invokes her Broadway experience to become the archetypal blues mama who "don't take no mess." In that vein, "H.B.'s Funky Fable" is a humorous talk-sung tale for kids of all ages, and "Cabbage Head" resurrects the minstrel-vaudeville days of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith with hilarious aplomb, as Brown nails the bawdy vernacular and trumpeter Abram Wilson spools out brassy asides that evoke the period perfectly. By the end of this Good Day, Brown proves she can inject gospel substance even into such Disney piffle as R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly." --Britt Robson

On the Grammy-nominated A GOOD DAY FOR THE BLUES, "Miss Rhythm" continued to show she could still show off plenty of sass and brass after 50 years in the music business. One of Brown's strengths is the way she treats a ballad, whether she's twisting and stretching out the standard "Never Let Me Go" or turning Steve Goodman's "A Lover Is Forever" into a cocktail-lounge weeper.

Backed by a crack band that includes talented guitarist Duke Robillard, Miss Brown keeps the mood entertaining. Standout numbers include the Dixieland traditional "Cabbage Head," the humorous "Can't Stand a Broke Man," and the childhood parable "H.B.'s Funky Fable," all in which Brown takes on the guise of characters (including a no-nonsense spouse and a variety of woodland creatures). Not surprisingly, Brown also excels at more upbeat material, including the snappy "Be Good to Me Tonight" and the Johnny Otis shuffle "Ice Water in Your Veins." The most unexpected turn comes on a reading of the R. Kelly smash "I Believe I Can Fly," which Brown turns into sweeping epic that benefits from a slow buildup.

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Last Updated (Sunday, 23 June 2013 09:01)


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