Sunday, 29 January 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #38 - Irma Thomas, "Wish Someone Would Care"

Another selection from the Slinky Jones archives.

Soul music is another one of those musical areas that I can't quite feel comfortable in. Partly the historical distance, partly the sense that there are generic boxes being ticked. I feel as though I'm being led away from real human instincts, real thoughts and decisions. The more authentic it's held up to be, the more it seems to be dancing to other people's rules. The fact that this album is from 1964 also doesn't help. I can't work it out retroactively.

"Time Is On My Side" I know from The Rolling Stones version, which apparently was a recording of this version, Irma having added some lyrics to the tune that had originally been released by a jazz trumpetman the year before. I suppose I should've realised before now that the song was actually telling an unfaithful lover they will eventually crawl back; out of Mick Jagger's mouth it sounds much more like a band seizing time for themselves there and then, rather than playing the long game.

There's a lot of pain on here - the title track is bleak enough, but comes along with "Please Send Me Someone To Love" and "I Need Your Love So Bad". I don't remember tunes like this ever really touching my sore spots when in a romantic turmoil. I'm too much of an ironic beast, doomed to a life of would-be hipster allusion. I remember Beck's "Sea Changes" hitting the spot last time my love life unravelled. Irma sings directly, but the ideas sound a little well-thumbed.

Her voice is beautiful - warm, smooth and sounding more youthful than I'd expected. I suppose I expect a voice that sounds more fucked up and weathered, more guttural and elemental. I don't know so much about the musicology - I can hear gospel in "Without Love There Is Nothing"; "While The City Sleeps" is a lot poppier, choppier and cheerfully singing about "walking about in shadows". "I've Been There" is a bit too much like the rock'n'roll stuff that was doing the rounds inbetween the Elvis and Beatle explosions. Too Grease for more liking. It all sounds so self-contained at this distance. There is some beautifully creaky gospel Wurlitzer, if that's the right machine.

I suppose I should try and listen to these tunes with more contemporary ears, and not worry about how long it was, how familiar and rounded-off it sounds. Re-engage. But that's too big a project for now. For now, I definitely like it - but can't peel it off the wallpaper.

"Understanding's a great thing/If it comes from the heart."

Rating: Can't Listen To out of Context

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