Ann Peebles - 1969 – This Is Ann Peebles
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A diminutive singer with a powerful voice and an even stronger attitude, Ann Peebles was one of the artists who defined Willie Mitchell’s legendary Memphis soul label Hi Records, along with Al Green and O.V. Wright. Easily the best female singer in the Hi stable, Peebles ranked among the finest deep Southern soul singers of the decade and her recordings, although not always appreciated on the charts as they often merited, hold up among the best of their era.
She released her debut single ‘Walk Away’ in 1969, which shot to an impressive number 22 on the Billboard Top 100 R&B singles chart in April. Following a second single, ‘Give Me Some Credit,’ Hi issued Peebles’ debut LP, This Is Ann Peebles. Unlike her subsequent albums, Peebles’ first release did not contain any of her own original material, but featured great covers of Otis Redding’s ‘Respect’, Aretha Franklin’s ‘Chain of Fools’ and Fontella Bass’s ‘Rescue Me’.
It also included the Club Rosewood song ‘Steal Away’ and the “Bowlegs” Miller composition ‘Won’t You Try Me’. The greatest Peebles’ albums were produced later, in a burst of collective creativity between 1972 and 1976, but this 1969 fantastic debut was a perfect first taste of what was to come. Ann Peebles has always been her own person, known as a real “singers’ singer” and a “musicians’ musician”. Perhaps this explains, at least in part, why she has had such an influence on real soul music since her big time in the early ‘70s. Needless to say, she is one of my favorite soul sisters.
A1 Give Me Some Credit 2:55
A2 Crazy About You Baby 2:35
A3 Make Me Yours 2:50
A4 My Man-He’s A Lovin’ Man 2:14
A5 Solid Foundation 2:07
A6 Chain Of Fools 2:45
B1 It’s Your Thing 2:32
B2 Walk Away 3:07
B3 Rescue Me 2:27
B4 Won’t You Try Me 2:55
B5 Steal Away 3:11
B6 Respect 2:12
Review by Mark Deming
Ann Peebles was all of 22 years old when she cut her debut album for the great Memphis R&B label Hi Records, but she sure didn’t sound like a novice once she stepped into the studio. This Is Ann Peebles is the work of a strong and confident artist who sounds thoroughly assured even when she’s covering Aretha Franklin, and though Peebles doesn’t quite take “Chain of Fools” away from the Queen of Soul, she gives it a taut but weary reading that lends that tale of romantic betrayal a flavor unique to Peebles’ rendition. That’s not the only instantly recognizable cover Peebles was saddled with on her first LP, but she sounds even more assured on “It’s Your Thing” and “Rescue Me” and on fresh material like “Crazy About You Baby“, “Make Me Yours” and “Give Me Some Credit“, her clear but resonant voice and emphatic readings establish her as a seasoned professional right out of the box.
It doesn’t hurt that Peebles was working with some of the best talent in Memphis on these sessions; the Hi Records rhythm section lays down a lean and indelible groove on every selection, the Memphis Horns punctuate the melodies with gale-force soul, and producer Willie Mitchell brings it all home with subtle but fiery results. It would be 1974 before Ann Peebles finally got the breakthrough hit she deserved with “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” but This Is Ann Peebles should convince anyone with a taste for classic rhythm & blues that she had the goods long before the rest of the world caught up with her.
Finally get two more of her albums in our back pages here