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A Good Day for the Blues

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Album Review

At age 70, Ruth Brown was still in full command of her powers when she cut this beaut of an album in 1998. Fueled by an all-star band featuring Duke Robillard on guitar and New Orleans session stalwarts like James Singleton on bass, keyboardist Davell Crawford, alto saxophonist Ray Moore, and a core group that also serves as her touring outfit, this record was cut live with all the musicians (including a full horn section) playing at once with no overdubs, a throwback to her recording modus operandi at Atlantic back in the 1950s. The songs are first-rate, featuring new compositions from soul tunesmith Dan Penn ("Can't Stand a Broke Man," "Be Good to Me Tonight"), torchy ballads ("Never Let Me Go," "A Lover Is Forever," "The Richest One," "I Believe I Can Fly," and "True"), riotous spoken word fables ("Cabbage Head" and "H.B.'s Funky Fable"), and solid rhythm numbers ("Hangin' by a Shoestring," "Ice Water in Your Veins"), all expertly played and sung. Far from being on the downhill side of things, Brown demonstrated that there was still plenty of gas left in the tank when she cut this one.


Born: 12 January 1928 in Portsmouth, VA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

They called Atlantic Records "the house that Ruth built" during the 1950s, and they weren't referring to the Sultan of Swat. Ruth Brown's regal hitmaking reign from 1949 to the close of the '50s helped tremendously to establish the New York label's predominance in the R&B field. Later, the business all but forgot her -- she was forced to toil as domestic help for a time -- but she returned to the top, her status as a postwar R&B pioneer (and tireless advocate for the rights and royalties of her peers)...
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A Good Day for the Blues, Ruth Brown
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