Eve Monsees & the Exiles

Texas platters

Phases and Stages

Eve Monsees & the Exiles

(Serpent) Opening her debut with "Surprise, Surprise" is a canny move for Eve Monsees. The song was only one of four Jagger-Richards originals on the Rolling Stones' third album, part of an era when artists cut their musical teeth playing covers. With 11 covers and three originals, Eve Monsees & the Exiles introduces the native Austinite as her own surprise from among the city's coterie of promising but oft-overlooked female bluesicians (Erin Jaimes, Joanna Ramirez, Donna Taylor). As a guitarist, Monsees has wisely surrounded herself with veterans Mike Buck, "Guitar" Grady Pinkerton, and Speedy Sparks, all of whom amp up her solid, studious playing with seasoned panache. The result is quite delightful. Monsees possesses a limited range, but uses it advantageously with stylish chant-singing, especially on the weakest cut, the Stones' "Stupid Girl." That's the worst that can be said for this joyous celebration of backroom R&B and Texas girl grit, songs chosen with a collector's touch. There's Sugarboy Crawford's "Ooh Wee Sugar," Johnny "Guitar" Watson's "Lonely, Lonely Nights," Bo Diddley's "Deed and Deed I Do," James Brown's "Lickin' Stick," and the Searchers' "Needles and Pins," with Charlie Sexton on 12-string. Monsees' own songs, the dreamy "Never Let You Go," Buddy Hollyish "(I've Got a) Thing for You," and swamp poppy "Don't Ever Say Goodbye," stand up well in such lustrous company. This album belongs, with deepest respect and admiration, in 1966.

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