Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Stay Out of the Kitchen
Mable John went from Motown to Stax via the Raelets, but this is her own album debut, combining issued Stax sides with a truck load of unissued material. Reissued to due popular demand and John is of course featured in the... more »
Listen to Samples
Mable John went from Motown to Stax via the Raelets, but this is her own album debut, combining issued Stax sides with a truck load of unissued material. Reissued to due popular demand and John is of course featured in the pending 'It Came From Memphis' concert at the Barbican, where she will be joined by the Bo-Keys and Stax stalwarts Booker T & The MGs, Eddie Floyd, William Bell and other special guests.
Top rate voice - mediocre material
Dr.D.Treharne | Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom | 12/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Signing Mable John to Stax records from Motown ought to have given Stax producers some sort of an idea about the direction that she needed to go to have massive hits.Unfortunately, as these tracks amply prove, they never got to grips with giving her the right material to fulfil her potential.By far and away the best track is "Stay out of the kitchen". "That's what my love can do" is passable, but apart from those, producers and writers seem to have struggled to move her away from a series of 'little girl done wrong' tracks.Her voice is never less than good,sometimes excellent, but with Shirley Brown and Jean Knight seemingly getting the best of what house writers had to offer, it's little wonder that she decided going back on the road with Ray Charles was a more productive line of work. The version of "Need your love so bad" is a poignant reminder of the heritage of her brother"
Hmmm...Not As Good As I'd Hoped
H. Howorth | Chicagoland | 01/26/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I know that many of my fellow soul obsessives who love to heap praise on artists that most of their friends have never heard of (check: obscurity doesn't necessarily mean quality) will likely disagree with my assessment of Mable John, but I'm afraid her talents are rather "average" on the whole, and she certainly won't make you forget Mavis Staples, Carla Thomas, Jean Knight or Ann Peebles any time soon. I, too, love discovering singers that time has either forgotten or wrongfully stepped over during their heyday but my high hopes were dashed several songs into this cd for a few obvious reasons: the material is certainly strong enough and the backing of the Stax house band is typically expert and funky as always, but Mable seems to have trouble connecting with the songs emotionally--it's as if she trotted in at the last minute and sang her parts over the rhythm tracks with little investment. Worse yet, she routinely sings slightly out of tune and her pitch problems become rather grating after half an hour of listening. If you don't believe me just listen to the song samples from beginning to end. If you're honest and objective you'll have to agree that Mable is often curiously flat in her delivery on at least half the tunes--not enough to make you wince (though close at times) but enough to be off-putting over the course of a whole cd. Don't get me wrong: there are worthwhile moments here and there on this disc but I would strongly disagree with the previous reviewers' assertions that Ms. John possessed a golden voice that was somehow mysteriously overlooked back in its day. For my money, I can think of literally dozens of female soul singers, both famous and obscure, who I'd rather hear any day of the week, and must therefore consider her a marginally interesting discovery at best."
Undimmed by time
Laurence Upton | Wilts, UK | 09/09/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the sixties, Mable John's recorded output was restricted to just a handful of singles on Tamla and Stax. Thanks to the CD format there are now two full length albums of her sixties work on sale, each additionally containing a number of recordings never released at the time. Her Tamla years are documented by Complete Collection - My Name Is Mable, which collected the four singles she made for the label, A-sides, B-sides and variants, and rescued a number of previously unknown gems from the vaults.
Stay Out Of The Kitchen continues the story from when she joined the legendary Stax roster of artists in 1966, swapping the Detroit sound of the Funk Brothers for the grittier Southern soul grooves of Booker T and the MGs. Her two years at the label probably represent the time for which she is best known, because after 1968 she joined the ranks of Ray Charles's Raelettes and ceased to be a solo performer for a long time. The difference in styles between Tamla and Stax is best demonstrated by the song Able Mable, as it appears on both discs in quite different arrangements. On the Tamla collection, My Name Is Mable, the unreleased early version under its original title gives the album its name.
Unlike the Tamla collection, however, this CD does not represent everything that Mable John recorded for the label. A generous eighteen of the tracks are previously unreleased and some at least must have been intended for an LP that never materialised. The trademark sounds of the MGs are augmented by Isaac Hayes on piano, backing vocals from staff writer Deanie Parker, members of Jeanne and the Darlings (who get name checked in a couple of the songs) and brother Raymond John, and the crisp tones of the Memphis Horns.
Isaac Hayes also produced and co-wrote several of the songs alongside David Porter, Mable John has several of her own songs and other notable writers include Steve Cropper, who produced several of the tracks (and of course contributes some very tasteful guitar figures throughout), Eddie Floyd and Homer Banks. The final song on the disc is her moving tribute to her brother Little Willie John who had just died, his signature song Need Your Love So Bad, written by another brother, Mertis John. The playing is at times bluesy, at times funky, generally favouring piano to organ, and is always solid and quite uniformly excellent. We had to wait nearly thirty years to get a chance to hear them, but their power is undimmed by time.
When it comes to the singles that Stax put out between 1966 and 1968, the collection takes a perverse turn. If there is one song for which Mable John will be remembered it is the stunning Your Good Thing (Is About To End), her Memphis debut. This is described in the notes as "a monster R&B record that peaked at #6", but it is not included on the disc. In fact, of the seven singles she released only three feature here: I'm A Big Girl Now, Able Mable and Running Out. Two of these, I'm A Big Girl Now and Able Mable, are both presented in alternative takes (Able Mable gaining an extra verse), leaving Running Out as the only original single in the 25-track collection. Her other singles (Your Good Thing, You're Taking Up Another Man's Place, Same Time Same Place, Don't Hit Me No More) are all represented only by their B-sides (the superb It's Catching, If You Give Up What You Got, Bigger And Better, Left Over Love, Don't Get Caught, Shouldn't I Love Him). I love the B-sides but would have welcomed the opportunity to hear the A-sides I'm not familiar with.
The notes point out that all the A-sides are available on the nine-CD box The Complete Stax/Volt Singles: 1959-1968. It seems a little unfair to expect purchasers to shell out around $90 (£80) to hear half-a-dozen tracks they might reasonably have assumed they had just bought. However, the sixty-seven minutes of music that is on offer can only be warmly welcomed."