Thomas, Carla


Band members               Related acts

- Carla Thomas -- vocals

 

 

- Carla Thomas and Otis Redding

 

 

 


 

Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Carla

Company: Stax

Catalog: 709

Year: 1966

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: mono pressing;

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD $15.00

 

1966 saw Carla Thomas release a pair of singles for Stax:

 

 

- 1966's 'Let Me Be Good To You' b/w Another Night without My Man'' (Stax catalog number S-188) # 62 pop; # 11 R&B

- 1966's 'B-A-B-Y' b/w 'What Have You Got To Offer Me' (Stax catalog number 45-195) # 14 pop; # 3 R&B

 

With the singles providing Thomas with a pair of top 20 pop R&B hits, Stax rushed out a supporting album - 1966's "Carla".  Judging by the elaborate cover art (courtesy of Ronnie Stoots and Bill Kinhsley) and some of the pop-oriented numbers, the album seemed to be an effort to market Carla Thomas on an upscale basis.  Musically the set offered up a fairly standard mix of new Stax material (largely penned by David Porter and Isaac Hayes), along with a mix pop, R&B, and soul cover tunes.  A little different from the standard Stax LP, Thomas was apparently allowed to pick a couple of the cover tunes, in this case selecting two of her favorite country numbers - Hank William's 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' and the song that made Patsy Cline famous - 'I Fall To Pieces'.  The album was also unusual in that it included a pair of Thomas originals - 'I Got You Boy' and 'What Have You Got To Offer Me'.  

 

- Sporting an arrangement that made the most out of Thomas' young and sassy voice, the Porter-Hayes 'B-A-B-Y' was easily the standout track on the album.  Having Thomas spell out the title was a great move.   Interestingly in his great book on Stax, Soulsville U.S.A. author Rob Bowman mentioned that Thomas originally didn't like the song, believing it was nothing more than a Sam and Dave reject.  In fact, after spending four hours trying to get through the song, she walked away from the song.  It wasn't until Booker T. Jones undertook a major re-write of the song, giving it a much softer feel, that Thomas was willing to give it another shot.  The result was one of best performances and a true soul classic that deserved to be the massive hit it was.   rating: ***** stars

- Backed by Steve Cropper's stinging lead guitar and The Memphis Horns, Thomas' cover of the Willie Dixon R&B classic 'Red Rooster' was actually quite good.  Giving the song more of a soul flavor than the typical R&B oriented version of the song was actually an interesting take on the tune.   rating: *** stars

- Previously released as a single, the Porter-Hayes penned 'Let Me Be Good To You' was a nice platform for Thomas' sultry voice.  Musically the song was a little too pop oriented for my tastes, but the track had a strong melody and  Thomas' vocal was first-rate.  The song was also included on the album Thomas recorded with Otis Redding - "King & Queen".   rating: *** stars

- The first of two Thomas originals, 'I Got You Boy' was a major surprise.  Kicked along by The Memphis Horns, the song sported a sough, but fully engaging melody, a great hook, and one of Thomas' toughest vocals.  She's seldom sounded as good !    rating: ***** stars

- Thomas had always been considered one of Stax's more pop oriented artists, so her cover of Jimmy Reed's 'Baby What You Want Me To Do' was a major surprise.  Once again powered by Cropper's instantly recognizable guitar and The Memphis Horns, this one remained true to its R&B roots.  Anyone who didn't think Thomas could sing the blues need only check this performance out.   rating: *** stars

- On the heels of that unexpected display of grit, her cover of the ballad 'For Your Love' actually came off as a minor disappointment.  There wasn't anything wrong with Thomas performance, but combined with the orchestrated arrangement, the song simply came off as sounded kind of MOR-ish and bland.   rating: ** stars

- The second Thomas original, ;What Have You Got To Offer Me' started side two out with a pretty, bluesy ballad that again served to showcase Thomas' beautiful voice.   rating: *** stars

- Slowing down the Hank Williams classic 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' and giving it a 'sophisticated' arrangement was one of those things that probably sounded better on paper than in execution.  While Thomas vocal was nice, the overall effect was forgettable supper club-ish.   rating: ** stars

- The trouble covering a classic like 'I Fall To Pieces" is that you're left with two equally difficult choices - stay faithful to the original version in which case you normally lose out when people compare it to the original, or you go with a radical reinterpretation which garners hate and discontent from people who like the original.  Thomas chose the former and as a result, loses the comparison with Patsy Cline's version.   rating: ** stars

- You've got to wonder why Stax would have Thomas record a middle of the road number such as 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me'.  Her performance wasn't bad, but it was simply too MOR for anyone who was going to buy a Carla Thomas album.   rating: ** stars

- For anyone who doesn't believe David Porter and Issac Hayes ever wrote a turkey, let me offer 'Fate'.  An instantly forgettable slice of cocktail jazz, this one was more suitable for the likes of Leslie Uggams, than Carla Thomas.  Dreadful.  rating: * star

- Once again showcasing Cropper's guitar and The Memphis Horns, 'Looking Back' was a stark and beautiful ballad.  One of Thomas most devastating performances.   rating: **** stars  

 

While the three throwaway MOR tunes on side two kept this from being a classic Stax album, there were enough highlights to warrant looking for the LP.

 

"Carla Thomas" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) B-A-B-Y   (David Porter - Isaac Hayes) - 2:49

2.) Red Rooster   (Willie Dixon) - 3:55

3.) Let Me Be Good To You   (David Porter - Isaac Hayes) - 2:40

4.) I Got You Boy   (Carla Thomas) - 2:45

5.) Medley

    a.) Baby What You Want Me To Do   (Jimmy Reed) - 2:21

    b.) For Your Love   (Townsend) - 3:04

 

(side 2)
1.) What Have You Got To Offer Me   (Carla Thomas) - 2:46

2.) I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry   (Hank Williams) - 3:22

3.) I Fall To Pieces   (Cockran - Howard) - 3:09

4.) You Don't Have To Say You Love Me   (Donaggio - Pallavicini) - 3:25

5.) Fate   (David Porter - Isaac Hayes) - 3:08

6.) Looking Back   (Otis - Benton - Hendricks) - 4:20

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Queen Alone

Company: Stax

Catalog: S-718

Year: 1969

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: name 'Kate' printed on front cover; minor ring and edge wear; minor 3 inch split along top seam

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4562

Price: $15.00

Cost: $1.00

 

 

Kudos to Thomas who managed to record this set while working for her Masters Degree at Washington, D.C.'s Howard University ...  Even though it's musical diverse, creatively 1969's "The Queen Alone" may be her most consistent offering.  In terms of material the set's divided between patented Stax-styled soul and more commercial pop-oriented numbers.  Whereas most artists would have a difficult time navigating between the different genres, Thomas was such a strong performer that she pulled it off with little difficulty.  Able to switch from sensitive little girl voice ('When Tomorrow Comes') to a 'don't fool with me toughness', in her hands the Burt Bacharach-penned 'Any Day Now' sounded as good as the funky 'Something Good (Is Going To Happen To You)'.  Literally all eleven tracks were good with most having the potential to have been a good single.  As such, if I had to pick a favorite, I'd go with one of her patented soul efforts - probably the bluesy 'Lie To Keep Me From Crying'.  The album also spun off a pair of hit singles for Thomas:

 

- 1969's 'Something Good (Is Going To Happen To You)' b/w 'It's Starting To Grow' (Stax catalog number S207)

- 1969's 'I'll Always Have Faith In You' b/w 'Stop Thief' (Stax catalog number 45-222)

 

"The Queen Alone" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Any Day Now   (Burt Bacharach - Hillard) - 3:38

2.) Stop Thief   (Isaac Hayes - David Porter - Shamwell) - 2:40

3.) I Take It To My Baby   (Steve Cropper - Isaac Hayes - David Porter) - 3:00

4.) I Want To Be Your Baby   (Isaac Hayes - David Porter) - 2:17

5.) Something Good (Is Going To Happen To You)   (Isaac Hayes - David Porter) - 2:38

6.) When Tomorrow Comes   (Isaac Hayes - David Porter) - 2:35

 

(side 2)
1.) I'll Always Have Faith In You   (Eddie Floyd - Isbell) - 2:55

2.) All I See Is You   (Weisman - Westlake) - 3:39

3.) Unchanging Love   (Isaac Hayes - David Porter) - 2:50

4.) Give Me Enough (To Keep Me Going)   (Parker) - 2:30

5.) Lie To Keep Me From Crying   (Banks - Jones) - 2:27

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Love Means ...

Company: Stax

Catalog: STS-2044

Year: 1971

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: includes original insert; two small cut out holes top left corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4559

Price: $9.00

Cost: $66.00

 

1971's "Love Means ..." isn't one of those albums that immediately leaps out at you.  Produced by Carla's brother Marvell (who also handled the arrangements and co-wrote several tracks), material such as 'Didn't We', 'What Is Love?' and 'Love Means You Never Have To Say You're Sorry' had a surprisingly commercial (aka pop) feel.  That's not necessarily bad, but for anyone accustomed to her more soul-oriented output (after all she's the Queen of Stax), hearing Thomas take on a cover of The Associations' 'Cherish' had to be a little unsettling.  The good news it that Thomas' instantly recognizable voice shined through both the pop and more soul-oriented numbers.  In fact, the only real misstep was a needless cover of 'Il Est Plus Doux Que' - Stax artists should avoid anything with a French lyric !!!   Personal favorites were Thomas' soul moves, including the Staples-styled 'Are You Sure'.  Elsewhere Stax tapped 'You've Got a Cushion To Fall On'  b/w 'Love Mans Never Having To Say You're Sorry' (Stax catalog number STA-0113) as a single.

"Love Means ..." track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Didn't We   (Jimmy Webb) - 3:34

2.) Are You Sure?   (Homer Banks - Raymond Jackson) - 3:16

3.) What Is Love?   (Marvell Thomas - Carla Thomas) - 3:21

4.) Daughter You're Still Your Daddy's Child   (Marvell Thomas - Jeana Roker) - 5:50

 

(side 2)
1.) Love Means You Never Have To Say You're Sorry   (Deanie Parker - Marevll Thomas - Carla Thomas) - 3:27

2.) You've Got A Cushion To Fall On   (Homer Banks - Raymond Jackson) -3:12

3.) Il Est Plus Doux Que   (Tony Hester) - 3:27

4.) Cherish   (Terry Kirkman) - 4:46

5.) I Wake Up Wanting You   (Marvell Thomas - Carla Thomas - Bobby Manuel - Bettye Crutcher) -3:19

 

 

 

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