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Soul on Fire: Best of LaVern Baker

4.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 1, 1991
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

LaVern was one of the crucial R&B singers of the early rock era, and these are 20 key cuts: her R&B Top 10s Jim Dandy; I Cried a Tear; Play It Fair; Bop-Ting-A-Ling; Tweedle Dee; Still; That's All I Need; See See Rider; I Waited Too Long , and more!

Amazon.com

Simply put, LaVern Baker, one of the greatest vocalists in Atlantic Records' history, could sing anything, as she proved again and again during a seven-year run of chart hits that began with 1955's "Tweedle Dee" and culminated in 1963's "See See Rider." Her material, supplied by many of the era's greatest songwriters (Leiber-Stoller, Pomus-Shuman, and many others), encouraged her to draw on her gospel and big band backgrounds in exploring the emotional subtext of serious ruminations on life such as "Saved" and the powerful "Soul on Fire." The latter was her first Atlantic single, and on it she used virtually every vocal technique at her command to bring out the slow-burning sensuality of the Ahmet Ertegun-penned gem of erotic longing. Thus was notice served, and, in the glorious years that followed, Baker cut a swath wide enough that her name and label-mate Ruth Brown's were spoken in the same reverent terms, sotto voce. The 20 tracks here remain as vital today as they were indispensable to the music's evolution in her own time. --David McGee

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Soul On Fire
  2. Tomorrow Night
  3. Tweedle Dee
  4. That's All I Need
  5. Bop-Ting-A-Ling
  6. Play It Fair
  7. Jim Dandy
  8. My Happiness Forever
  9. Get Up, Get Up (You Sleepy Head)
  10. Still
  11. I Can't Love You Enough
  12. Jim Dandy Got Married
  13. I Cried A Tear
  14. Whipper Snapper
  15. I Waited Too Long
  16. Shake A Hand
  17. How Often
  18. You Said
  19. Saved
  20. See See Rider


Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 1, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Atlantic
  • ASIN: B000002IRY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,492 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian A. Foster on January 24, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My youngest memories of music as a kid were of LaVern Baker. My Dad played her albums at every party he threw (and he threw quite a few). I liked it then, but haven't listened to her music in well over 20 years now. I purchased this album to remember my Dad's music.
The best surprise was mine to enjoy--not only did I reconnect all of my memories, I gained a true appreciation of what a wonderful treasure LaVern Baker was. My goodness. Between LaVern Baker and Fats Domino, do you need anything else to remember those years?
There is not a single bad song on this album. Every song she sings is emminently enjoyable. But it--you won't regret it.
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One of the great advantages to having become a teenager in the early 1950s is the fact that, by having lived through the birth of R&R, you can look back and give an honest, unbiased opinion as to who constituted the wheat and who made up the chaff.

Let's face it, the early days of R&R were male dominated, and when you get right down to it, only three women were able to consistently hold their own on the charts in those days with the likes of Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Elvis, Pat Boone, Jerry Lee Lewis, and The Everly Brothers. They were Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, and LaVern Baker.

Born Delores Williams on November 11, 1929 in Chicago, her first record releases came in 1951 on Columbia's Okeh subsidiary when she was billed as Bea Baker and, later that same year, as "Little Miss Sharecropper" on the National label. In 1952 she took the name LaVern Baker while performing with Todd Rhodes & His Orchestra, and her success there led to a contract with the fledgling Atlantic Records. Her first release, Soul On Fire - fittingly the title for this CD - was written by the label's legendary founder Ahmet Ertegun, and while it didn't chart in either the R&B or pop Top 40 when released in late 1953, that would change in 1955.

In January that year, with her back-up group The Gliders, she released the bouncy Tweedlee Dee which, b/w the soulful Tomorrow Night [an Elvis favorite] went to # 4 R&B and # 14 pop. And although it was outsold in the latter market by a rushed-out Georgia Gibbs cover, the buying public would not let that happen again. From there to her last big charted hit in 1966, no one dared cover her again.
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BACK IN THE 50'S WHEN THERE WERE SO MANY GREAT SINGERS COMING AND GOING LAVERN BAKER WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST RTHYM AND BLUES QUEENS OF ALL-TIME.SHE WAS OF THE SAME GENRE AS ETTA JAMES, CHUCK WILLIS, SOLOMON BURKE ETC.LAVERN MADE CLASSICS LIKE "I CRIED A TEAR", "JIM DANDY" ETC.HER SINGING WAS CLEANER THAN ETTA JAMES'BUT THEY DID THE SAME TYPE OF SONGS.YOU WILL LOVE THIS C.D. AND WANT TO BUY OTHER C.D.'S BY THIS SINGER. DON'T MISS OUT ON THESE CLASSIC R&B POP RECORDINGS!BUY IT!!
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Lavern Baker is an almost forgotten legend of rhythm and blues. It is difficult to find her recordings in music stores, but this album has everything you could want if you are going to buy only one album by her. Highlights of this album are the hot jumpin' "Jim Dandy" and "Jim Dandy Got Married." This is where Baker is truly on fire. Her voice is out of sight without over-doing it. This is a perfect example of what rhythm and blues truly is.
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Not only was she great in every way these other reviews say, she was a very beautiful lady on the outside and inside. The only place I had to hear her when I was a teenager was at a mainly "blacks" cafe on the "down" end of the town I grew up in. There were no "black" radio stations then in my hometown. My closest friend and I could sometimes get a far off radio station that played this kind of music, but we'd slip off and go to this cafe (Miles' Cafe) after high school let out. I can't remember what we used as an excuse as to why we were late getting home from school. (Parents cared in those days, but would not have approved of our going in to "that" cafe.) I'm so glad I ran across this album on Amazon. Well, Amazon actually recommended it to me. Thanks Amazon. I remember most of these songs. Oh, I graduated from high school in 1957.
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BACK IN THE 50'S WHEN THERE WERE SO MANY GREAT SINGERS COMING AND GOING LAVERN BAKER WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST RTHYM AND BLUES QUEENS OF ALL-TIME.SHE WAS OF THE SAME GENRE AS ETTA JAMES, CHUCK WILLIS, SOLOMON BURKE ETC.LAVERN MADE CLASSICS LIKE "I CRIED A TEAR", "JIM DANDY" ETC.HER SINGING WAS CLEANER THAN ETTA JAMES'BUT THEY DID THE SAME TYPE OF SONGS.YOU WILL LOVE THIS C.D. AND WANT TO BUY OTHER C.D.'S BY THIS SINGER. DON'T MISS OUT ON THESE CLASSIC R&B POP RECORDINGS!BUY IT!!
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One of the true Queens of Rock and Roll performing many of her greatest hits in full versions wth a powerful band. Her voice is prominent throughout - perhaps a little more band might have helped, but it's not an issue because she is singing well.
She pays tribute to other legends such as Bessie Smith (St. Lous Blues); Esther Phillips (What A Difference A Day Made); Patti Page (Tennessee Waltz). Her workouts on her own recent Broadway-related material, also beg return spins.
The band is tight and strong; background voices mixed nicely, especially on See See Rider and a lesser-discussed nugget, Play It Fair (she also recut it Brunwick in the late '60s); ad they show no signs of slowing on the rousing finale, Saved.
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