Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
someone else | cleveland, ohio, usa | 04/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While, according to the liner notes, "Memphis Queen" appears to be one of Carla Thomas' least favorite albums that she recorded, I find myself enjoying it an awful lot. In fact, this disc, which combines her last two full-length recordings with Stax records, is my overall favorite disc of Carla's (though I confess that I don't have the self-titled "Carla"). Admittedly, these two albums, "Love Means" and "Memphis Queen," took me some time to fully appreciate, but that's generally been the case with all of her full-lengths with me. These aren't albums full of immediately accessible pop gems like "Gee Whiz," but once you come to appreciate them, they outstrip her early work.
"Memphis Queen" is an absolutely solid work, with only the song "Unyielding" that keeps it from being flawless. The song "I'm Falling in Love with You" is probably my all-time favorite song of Carla's, and there a number of other excellent songs, to boot. The album is a bit uptempo (in an entirely different--and better--way than "The King and Queen" album she did with Otis Redding), and the drums seem to consistently add the flare and spice to the album, keeping each song fresh. The string arrangements to the album showcase that this is one of the later Stax recordings, but I think that they work out really nicely and add a soothing, beautiful texture where present. In this sense, I find "Memphis Queen" to be a little more complex than her earlier recordings, and therefore, perhaps, a little more satisfying.
"Love Means," Carla's final album, is every bit as complex as "Memphis Queen," if not a little more. It's rumored to be Carla's favorite album that she recorded, and while I've come to really appreciate it, I don't neccessarily consider it her best, but I do consider it an absolutely appropriate, and maybe even perfect, last album. Songs like "Are You Sure" take on lyrical content that goes beyond simple love songs and moves toward political and social awareness, showing some interesting growth. "Daughter, You Are Still Your Daddy's Child" is easily her longest song of any of her albums, and it's a truly moving narrative that work up to a climactic finish between Carla's vocals and the Memphis Horns. "You've Got a Cushion to Fall On," "Il Est Plus Doux Que," and "Cherish" make up a remarkale stretch toward the understated and sad closing song, "I Wake up Wanting You." Overall, this album seems a bit quieter and more introspective than her others--it has a distinctly different feel to it. In any case, it's another excellent record by Carla, and paired with "Memphis Queen," it's a no-brainer.
My only complaint about this disc is that it puts the two albums in reverse chronological order, which I can't begin to understand what advantage was seen in doing so. The disc begins with "Love Means" and then goes to "Memphis Queen." In doing this, it takes away from the listener's ability to hear the development and growth in her recordings. As much as I think that this is worth deducting a star for, I feel as if that would be unfair to the albums themselves, and so I keep it at five stars. I would love to see individual reissues of each album, but that seems unlikely. Even though she's known as "The Queen of Memphis Soul," she doesn't seem to get much attention. Her albums are hard to come by, and she's fallen in the shadow of her label-mates, which is too bad. Stax, without question, had some amazing talent, but Carla is among the top and deserves more attention from both the label (by keeping all her albums in print) and the listeners."
Love Means Carla Thomas/Memphis Queen
Robert J. Sherlock | 01/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The one song by Carla tha I was missing was "Where Do I Go". For some reason it seemed to be rare. Very happy to find it on this disc."