Simply Grand

Simply Grand

by Irma Thomas
5.0 1


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Simply Grand

After a lifetime in the business, the Soul Queen of New Orleans finally won a Best Contemporary Blues Grammy in 2006 for After the Rain. As everyone knows, there's a lot more to Thomas than the blues. She's a powerful R&B belter, simmering soul singer, and all round entertainer as comfortable with a standard like "Stormy Weather" as she is with a new tune like Dr. John's "Be You." True to its punny title, Simply Grand features Thomas in the company of 13 piano players laying down accompaniment on the acoustic grand. The tunes are old and new, borrowed and blue, but Thomas makes them all her own. The most powerful tracks here showcase Thomas and a solo pianist, bringing the feel of a smoky late-night bar on the end of lonely street to life. "Be You" features Dr. John, who played piano on the very first Thomas recording session, 1959's "You Can Have My Husband (But Don't Mess with My Man)." Rebennack's piano on "Be You" is dramatic and funky, halfway between a Mardi Gras romp and a Sunday morning sermon. Written by Rebennack and Doc Pomus, it's a simple, soulful love song with a playful vocal by Thomas . On the Louis Jordan standard "If I Had Any Sense I'd Go Back Home" Mac and Thomas get down and dirty, with Thomas delivering a casual vocal that plays around with the beat, while Rebennack backs her with clusters of rippling arpeggios. "Somebody Told You," a sassy Allen Toussaint R&B number Thomas recorded back in 1962, gets a reprise (in the same key as the original) with John Medeski rolling out some stomping New Orleans fonk on his solo while Thomas testifies with her usual soulful intensity. Marcia Ball chose the Leon Russell tune "Same Old Blues" for the session and gives it a gospel twist that lets Thomas flex her moaning lower resister. Randy Newman supplies keys and his own "Think It's Going to Rain Today" to close the album. Thomas makes a bleak lyric even more forlorn with an understated sighing vocal that's downright heartbreaking. But the album also has it's sassy, uptempo moments. John Fogerty's "River Is Waiting" also has a celebratory churchy ambience with great backing vocals, Henry Butler's sanctified piano, and Thomas' testifying lifting the tune to heaven. "Early in the Morning," another Louis Jordan tune, a tongue in cheek tale of a woman looking for solace after being up all night, gets a humorous read from Thomas and pianist Tom McDermott. "Underground Stream" is a pop tune from pianist David Egan that combines R&B and gospel with a classic '40s pop feel. The chorus is instantly memorable, and if there was any justice in the world it'd be the monster hit Thomas deserves.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/12/2008
Label: Rounder / Umgd
UPC: 0011661220225
catalogNumber: 612202

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Irma Thomas   Primary Artist,Vocals
Marcia Ball   Piano,Accompaniment,Guest Appearance
Dr. John   Piano,Accompaniment,Guest Appearance
Randy Newman   Piano,Accompaniment,Guest Appearance
Henry Butler   Piano,Accompaniment,Guest Appearance
Ellis Marsalis   Piano,Accompaniment,Guest Appearance
David Torkanowsky   Piano,Accompaniment,Guest Appearance
Jon Cleary   Percussion,Piano,Background Vocals,Accompaniment,Guest Appearance
Charles Elam   Background Vocals
Elaine Foster   Background Vocals
Jason Marsalis   Drums
Tom McDermott   Guest Appearance
John Medeski   Piano,Accompaniment,Guest Appearance
Alfred "Uganda" Roberts   Conga,Tambourine
James Singleton   Bass
Davell Crawford   Piano,Background Vocals,Accompaniment,Guest Appearance
Erica Falls   Background Vocals
Michael Skinkus   Bongos,Conga
Raymond Weber   Drums
Tom McDermott & His Jazz Hellions   Piano,Accompaniment
David Egan   Piano,Background Vocals,Accompaniment,Guest Appearance
Steven "Steven J." Jordan   Drums
Norah Jones   Piano,Accompaniment,Guest Appearance
Earl Smith   Background Vocals
Peter Harris   Bass
Tim Luntzel   Bass
Kristen Miller   Cello
Patricia Doucette   Viola
Hannah Thiem   Violin

Technical Credits

John Fogerty   Composer
Randy Newman   Composer
Burt Bacharach   Composer
Don Nix   Composer
Scott Billington   Producer,Liner Notes
Jon Cleary   Composer
David Farrell   Engineer
Steve Krikorian   Composer
Clyde Otis   Composer
Doc Pomus   Composer
Dr. John   Composer
David Egan   Composer
Ilhan Ersahin   Composer
Naomi Neville   Composer
David Boucher   Engineer
Rose Marie McCoy   Composer
Norah Jones   Composer
Leo Hickman   Composer
Morgan Stratton   Engineer
Chris Allen   Engineer

Customer Reviews

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Simply Grand 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most of the lyrics are great,the musicians add different rythum to everysong. It is a great cd and no one has more soul than Irma Thomas. She is a natural.