October 28, 2004

Soul Queen's funky side

"She's Taken My Part" (Adams-Savoy-Hamilton)
Irma Thomas, Cotillion 44144, 1971

Irma recorded this single at Malaco in Jackson, MS in late 1971. It was produced and arranged by >Wardell Quezergue around the same time that he also produced and/or arranged the hits "Groove Me" for King Floyd and "Mr. Big Stuff" for Jean Knight (both New Orleans artists of note) at that same studio. A respected Crescent City musical master, though lesser known than Allen Toussaint or Eddie Bo, Mr. Quezergue worked his magic on a ton of tunes for a host of artists over four decades, and deserves exalted props. He has just recently retired due to declining health.

One of the co-writers on this song, Larry Hamilton, is a HOTG songwriter and singer I'll be getting to at some point. I find "She's Taking My Part" to be one of the funkier numbers soulful Irma has done; and it's really a shame she didn't record more with Quezergue. But, that's how it worked out.

Commercially speaking, Irma's recording career has been a little hit and mostly miss from her earliest days. While some criticize her for a perceived lack of fire in her recordings, I don't agree, having been moved by much of what she has done over the years. She just never really had a lucky break in the business, although she worked with such legends as Eddie Bo, Allen Toussaint, and Jerry Ragavoy. She was rediscovered in the 1980s when she began recording with Rounder Records, and has made some great albums for them. Still performing to this day, Irma regularly delves into her back catalog on stage and will often pull out an obscurity or two in her sets; but I've never heard her do this one in all the times I've caught her live.

She's still much loved in her hometown as the Soul Queen of New Orleans and deserves your attention, if not utter devotion. Enjoy.


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