on June 21, 2010
It's pretty amazing when you consider all of the major album releases and tours by todays hottest female pop stars (Lady Gaga, Madonna, Xtina, etc.) - how every one of them dabble in futuristic pop, and assisted songwriting from JR Rotem, Tricky Stewart, Red One and all the like.....
So what does Cyndi Lauper do? She goes and records a full-on blues album with help from B.B. King, Charlie Musslewhite, and Johnny Lang, among others. Sometimes the legacy of an artist is the art itself, and not the image, or the celebrity, or the drama, or the gossip. Cyndi Lauper has one of the best voices on the planet, and she is way past her due. One of the world's most tragically underrated artists may finally get it here.
From the opening moments of "Just Your Fool" it immediately becomes apparent that this is a heartfelt, gritty, and emotional album. And it is blues all the way. "Crossroads" is another standout, with the guitar work from Lang typically stellar. But this album does not rest strictly on the guest performances. "Down So Low" and "Romance in the Dark" are basically Cyndi's solo work, making the whole thing even more impressive.
But the thing that impresses me the most is the fact that this is still a Cyndi Lauper album. Her signature sound and vocal phrasing is still easily recognizable, as many of the songs are comparable to the standards on her 2003 mini-masterpiece, the covers album "At Last." As I said - it's the art that one leaves behind that determines their legacy. Some pop tarts go for shock value, and tabloid pics, and hire the latest hip-hop guru to create songs for them. Cyndi Lauper records with the legendary B.B. King. There has always been a unique twist to Cyndi's work (one would be hard-pressed to find two songs in her entire catalog that sound exactly alike), but this one tops them all. This is a major artistic statement from someone who many critics thought was 20 years past her prime. That really shows what the critics know. Do yourself a favor - buy this album.
on July 1, 2010
It helps to be on TV. "Memphis Blues" comes shortly after Cyndi Lauper's participation on "Celebrity Apprentice" and benefits substantially, becoming her highest charting LP since 1986.
Why a blues album? Does she pull it off?
Lauper has always defied expectations. A comprehensive look at her career shows this is hardly her first left-field decision. Recording an authentic blues record had been one of her desires years, and it puts her versatility as a singer and musician to a new test.
Unlike most of her peers or disciples, when Lauper changes genre ordirection between albums the results are not contrived, detached or stilted - qualities that would stifle authentic blues chestnuts like the sultry "Romance In the Dark" or the rambunctious "Rollin' and Tumblin." Her artistic drive is clearly internal, not derived from swapping producers or "acting" the part of a genre. This makes the album work.
It also helps to have friends. Bluesmen Charlie Musselwhite and Alan Toussaint back Lauper on several tracks, while B.B. King sings and plays on "Early in the Mornin'," a definite highlight exemplary of the album.
Jonny Lang guests on "Crossroads" and B.B. King's "How Blue Can You Get?" The mix of his and Lauper's vocals often feels uncomfortably forced during the quieter moments of the songs, as though recorded separately, although the result is still listenable. "Just Your Fool" feels oddly scattered for an opening track and lead single choice.
"Down Don't Bother Me" is a rousing declaration of inner strength where both Lauper's love of and proficiency for the blues shine remarkably, supported perfectly by Musselwhite's pitch-perfect blues-harp playing. "Down So Low" is just as impressive with its timeless, unshakeable melody and theme. "Don't Cry No More" is a sprightly, upbeat burst of sunlight that gives the album a danceable moment.
There may be no pop hits here, but Lauper has certainly recorded an accessible selection of tunes with impeccable talent surrounding her. "Memphis Blues" manages to pay homage to the blues without descending into a vanity project or Wikipedia entry with sound. It is breezy, finely tuned and perfectly professional, working equally well as a Lauper album and a classy blues record. No small feat.
on June 21, 2010
Cyndi Lauper was one of those artists in the 80's that I didn't really care for. Her style of dress was outlandish and her musical material was bubble gum at best. But I have learned that it is those strange artists that can surprise you. As in this new release from Cyndi Lauper. Memphis Blues has heart and soul, and is every bit of the blues as the blues should be. The vocals are amazingly mature and full of passion for the music.. And the music is certainly the kind that one would hear in a an old blues club filled with the blue smog of too many smokers bad habits. Memphis Blues is top notch and shows what an artist can do when they decide to mature and explore new horizons. Earlier today I wrote reviews for two rock legends cd's, (Ozzy Osbourne and Vince Neil.) Both of those albums were uneventful throwbacks to a time in musics past. Then along comes someone like Cyndi Lauper and blows them both out of the water with passion and style... Kudos Cyndi.
on June 22, 2010
In this age of talentless schlock put out by numerous "pop stars", it is refreshing to get an album recorded by real musicians. No auto-tune here.
I have never been a huge fan of Cyndi Lauper - I always respected her for being true to her style, and enjoyed seeing her on "Celebrity Apprentice", but this new album is really something unexpected. It has a great "true blue" sound that would resonate throughout times, going both forward and back. I keep thinking that, if not for the superb digital quality, this album could have been produced 40 or 50 years ago, it just has that timeless quality to it.
on June 23, 2010
A dream Cyndi Lauper had whereby jazz pianist Oscar Peterson stated he liked her version of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On," and suggested she should revisit some old songs, and make them modern, the way Janis Joplin did, inspired her to make a blues record. Newly signed to Downtown Records, Lauper wanted to explore a new musical direction with no compromises. Recorded in Memphis with legends such as Allen Toussaint, B.B. King, Charlie Musselwhite, Ann Pebbles, Johhny Lang, and veteran Stax Records session players, Lauper wanted to make a record with a pure, live sound, and she got it right.
It takes a lot of chutzpa for a white girl from Brooklyn to attempt such a project, and during the recording sessions, Lauper admitted she heard this voice in her head whisper "You know everyone else will be more that good, but I might not be good enough." She needn't have worried because she more than does justice to the 12 classic blues songs served up in her unique vocal style, covered in Memphis Blues.
Standout tracks include the classic, "Romance In The Dark," penned and originally performed by Lillian "Lil" Green who died of pneumonia at age 34 in 1954, Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" and Rollin' And Tumblin' a duet featuring the legendary Ann Peebles.
Dedicated to Ma Rainy, mother of the blues and all the early blues artists who travelled through the cross roads, suitcases in hand, Cyndi Lauper hits the Blues and Jazz Festival circuit this summer to perform material from this standout recording and will surely win many new fans. Recommended listening and an excellent move forward from a recording artist who continues to surprise and thrill!
If sales from this recording warrant it, hopefully Lauper will give serious consideration to a companion volume paying homage to female blues singers like Ma Rainy, Big Mama Thornton, Alberta Hunter, Bessie Smith, etc and delving further in the songbook of Lillian "Lil" Green, all legends who need to be re-introduced to a contemporary audience. Sheboppin' the blues indeed!
on February 6, 2013
I was very skepitical but read some reviews from others and listen to some cuts from this album.
To be honest I did not like her other music but I am not into Rock and Roll.
But Wow she nailed this piece,,,,,,,,,If you love the blues Cyndi will knock you out
By the way I read her book recently, I could not beleive that for years I thought she was from England and I find out she is from the Bronx, Cyndi says We just have a hard time talking English in the Bronx, She is a hoot
Great piece that will be loved by many I believe
on June 22, 2010
i cannot go on enough on how great this CD is. cyndi lauper sounds great, the band is top notch, as well as
the song choices. now this is some serious, bluesy, music. the minute i put the CD in i knew it---this is
gonna deliever. very mature, soulful, with a all star backing band. she should be proud because she did this
right! great to have a fresh sound from a classic artists. i love this!
on August 5, 2012
I was prepared to chuckle at this record, but gave it a try because I'm a Cyndi Lauper fan. It looked like a good novelty CD to have around, and I expected there might be one or two good songs to put in the rotation. I'm difficult to please because I love the blues, and have had this love for 40 years. The very audacious idea that the record is named Memphis Blues seemed like the thing was going to be a real hoot. Of all the nerve!
And it is a hoot. A hoot and a holler. Superb singing and playing. This is a great record. As usual, Cyndi shouts the songs with her usual huevos out attitude, and, as alway, seeming unaware of any limits to her choice of material. I'd be willing to bet that if you played this record for your blues buddies, and you didn't tell them the name of the lead singer, they would flip out over it. I was going to burn a copy for a pal who is a real blues snob, but I know he won't listen to a burned copy of a Cyndi Lauper CD. He'd tell me he listened to it, but he wouldn't. I do know he'll listen to a crisp, new CD, so I ordered a copy for him. That's how much I like this record.
A lot of times, these "duets" albums seem like they are good musical ideas. Two good musicians together singing the same song - how can it go wrong? As we all know, it usually goes wrong. This Lauper record is an exception to the mediocre duets album experience. Everybody is great, and the pairings are very fine. I especially feared that B. B. King wouldn't do too good. I love the man and his music, but his age has not been kind to this blues god, but forget that - here, he does it right. All of the other guests and the band are the tops, in my book.
Girls, indeed, just want to have fun. Either give Cyndi Lauper a chance in regards to an opinion on her records or get out of the way.
on June 22, 2010
I have known Cyndi Lauper since 80s, liked and bought her two albums "She Is So Unusual" & "True Colors". These are pop/rock albums that made her a star in the 80s & 90s. Her live performances have always been phenomenal from this singer-songwriter from New York. On this wonderful new CD release "Memphis Blues", Cyndi Lauper collaborates with great blues artists : Charlie Musselwhite ("I'm Just Your Fool" & "Down Don't Bother Me"), Allen Toussaint (Shattered Dreams","Mother Earth" & "Early In The Morning" with the legendary blues maestro B.B.King), Johnny Lang ("How Blue Can You Get" & Cross Roads") & Kenny Brown ("Rolling And Tumblin'" with Peebles). There is however one solo beautiful effort by Cyndi Lauper in this album release, namely "Wild Women Don't Get The Blues" [This track is not included in digipak but in iTunes & Import CD versions only]. Cyndi Lauper is back with & in "Memphis Blues" with a bang, can't wait to see a release of her live performances in support of her new blues album of note "Memphis Blues"!
on August 9, 2010
I bought this CD because I heard part of a song on a local FM Station that plays deep cuts. Cindi Laupers range on this spin is absolutely incredible I've had it in my car player for two weeks and I'm not sure when it's coming back out. I was afraid that with BB being part of the band that he would overshadow everything but I'm terribly happy to report that BB King played to Cindi and not above her. The band is also so sweet. If your a fan of the Blues you'll love this Honest to God amazing CD. As a life long fan of Janis I was crushed when she passed. Since then there have been only a dozen or so Female artists who have gotton my attention singing the Blues and only occasionally but none have put it all together like Cindi has with this effort. She had a lot to choose from and she chose well.