February 19, 2005

Something Good

"We Got Something Good" (Maurice Dollison)
Irma Thomas, Chess, 1967

Ain't got it

As promised, here’s another one from Irma Thomas in honor of her birthday yesterday. On this cut, we take a trip up the road from the Home of the Groove to another groove hotbed of the day, Muscle Shoals, AL. After her mid-1960’s stint with Imperial, Irma signed with Chess Records. The label sent several of its female artists, Etta James, Laura Lee, and Thomas, to Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals around 1967 to record with owner/producer Rick Hall and his outstanding house band.

“We Got Something Good” is one of the few sides that Chess actually released from Irma’s sessions. It was the flip of “Good To Me”, an Otis Redding song, which received a bit of airplay. As you can hear, the players nailed a great groove for Irma to work with. Two other singles were commercial flops; and Thomas parted ways with the label, leaving eight unreleased tracks in the can.

In 1990, MCA/Chess released a CD, Something Good: The Muscle Shoals Sessions, featuring virtually all of Irma’s tracks from 1967; but it is out of print now and very hard to come by at a decent price. Seek it out, if you want to hear Irma doing some of her most soulful singing backed up by a killer session group: Roger Hawkins, David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, Spooner Oldham, and the Muscle Shoals Horns. When she started recording for Rounder in the 1980’s, Irma redid several of these sides to good effect; but the originals are hard to beat. If I get a chance before the end of the month, I’ll post one of hers from an LP produced by the Swamp Dogg, too.


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