You don’t normally associate the kind of deep, funky music heard on Texas Soul Sisters (Dialtone Records) with Texas. Instead guitar heroes such as T-Bone Walker and Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown immediately come to mind upon hearing the Lone Star State name.
The Texas Soul Sisters featured on this 54-minute disc helped shape roots music in Texas. No wonder there isn’t any traditional 12 bar blues or Texas blues rock or pop soul (e.g., Stax) to be found. Instead you get honest blues and soul music that relates to life.
Austin’s Glenda Hargis has a heavy gospel background. Louisiana-born Lavelle White is a soul sensation and a singer’s singer. Miss Candy also hails from Cajun Country but is known around Texas for her soulful blues. Houston’s Gloria Edwards has played with many of the greats.
All of these blues women have previous recordings, some dating back to the late ‘50s. 13 tracks are included and only two are covers. Edwards is featured on four cuts, while each of the others get a threesome.
Mike Flanigin’s whirling organ soars on Lavelle’s "Flight 449." She has powerful and clear vocals which are warm and approachable even though they sound larger than life. The rhythm jumps on your soul then takes it for a patriotic ride and begs it to stand up and fight for your country on the anthem-like "I Want To Know." Then on "Bad Song," White proves she has more style than Bootsy Collins and P-Funk combined!
Gloria’s "I’m Your Hoochie Mama" is a fashionable ‘70s groove. It features Bill Campbell’s deep and heavy bass, Clarence Pierce’s funky rhythm guitar and Flanigin’s greasy organ. Nelson Mills’ trumpet blasts providing a stereotypical soul feel to this tune. Edwards’ pipes are a touch softer than Lavelle’s but every bit as strong and forceful. At times they are glamorous as on "Better Think About It."
Glenda is a dramatic, throaty shouter with a huff and gruff vocal style. At times her vocal chords sound like metal on metal. On "Rain Down Love" she blows as much air from her pipes as Marcus Cardwell’s jazzy sax.
Miss Candy’s band sound like jump-swing masters on "You Treat Me So Bad." Exceptional is the Johnnie Bassett guitar approach of Tom Hunter.
The rough and raw production is not great, as many of the instruments sound shallow, hallow or muffled. This is disappointing for the trembling organ and quaking brass. However, the stately vocals are loud and clear on these shake-your-ass grooves.
Since none of the sisters’ tracks appear back-to-back, things remain fresh. All of the ladies are good, but Lavelle will leave you breathless. A total of 14 musicians were required to provide the foundation to support these divas.
If you thought all Texas had to offer was a bunch of six-string-toting axe-grinders, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. If you feel like gettin’ down, check this one out. If you haven’t got down in a while, this CD will ensure you will! For CDs, booking and information, contact: http://dialtone.home.texas.net, email: email@example.com or Dialtone Records, PO Box 684822, Austin, TX 78768 USA.
--- Tim Holek
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