Blues Cruise

Texas Platters go mondo

Crazy From the Heat

Lou Ann Barton The Best! (Rock Beat Records)

Lou Ann Barton originated in Fort Worth, but the veteran blues belter made her name, home, and career in Austin. Likewise, The Best! isn't mere description of this compilation. It's a declaration of artistry. The lovingly assembled career retrospective crowns her the capital's Queen of the Blues by virtue of tremendous lung-power, the vocal equivalent of a Fifties blues guitarist screaming through a busted amp. Inhabiting every song, she's pulled straight from the DNA of Etta James, Big Mama Thornton, and Wanda Jackson, and stood before some of the greatest acts of late 20th century blues: Fabulous Thunderbirds, Roomful of Blues, and Triple Threat, which became Double Trouble shortly before Barton left it to guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. The cast list for this disc, musician and producer, is astonishing: longtime collaborators Jimmie Vaughan, Derek O'Brien, Denny Freeman, Tommy Shannon, George Rains, plus David "Fathead" Newman, Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack, Jerry Wexler, and the classic Muscle Shoals Sound Studios rhythm section, which played on her ill-fated 1982 Asylum Records LP, Old Enough, produced by Wexler and – of all people – Glenn Frey. The heart of the album front-loads at the very beginning: unreleased demos cut at Wexler's request in 1981, with the classic Vaughan/Keith Ferguson/Fran Christina lineup of ATX's T-Birds. Augmented with Joe Sublett's and Luke McNamee's saxes and Denny Levin's piano, this outfit tears through some choice nuggets: Jimmie Logsdon's rockabilly obscurity "Rocket in My Pocket," Lazy Lester's swamp pop immortal "Sugar Coated Love," the Chantels' doo-wop plea "Maybe." As Vaughan puts it in the liner notes, "She didn't care if the lyrics were written for a man. She didn't care about nothing' 'cept tearing the roof off the club." She tears the head off all five of these demos, and every other track on this disc. It doesn't matter if the songs were originated by Barbara Lynn ("You'll Lose a Good Thing"), Slim Harpo ("Shake Your Hips," "Te Ni Nee Ni Nu"), Ike & Tina Turner ("I Idolize You"), or Faye Adams, whose "Shake a Hand" appears in two different versions. By the time she gets through with them, all have become Lou Ann Barton songs. You'll never want to hear anyone else sing them. "She keeps it raw," Etta James gushes in the liners. "When they write the bible about the best blues singers ... Lou Ann Barton better have her own chapter." ****

More Lou Ann Barton
Margaret Moser Tribute: Lou Ann Barton
Lou Ann Barton
The blues belter on what it's like to have your career chronicled by the best

Raoul Hernandez, June 30, 2017

Texas Platters
Lou Ann Barton
Old Enough (Record Review)

Margaret Moser, July 27, 2007

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
The Crack Pipes
Beauty School (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Oct. 20, 2017

Texas Platters
Milligan Vaughan Project
Milligan Vaughan Project (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 1, 2017

More by Tim Stegall
Texas Platters
ST 37
Fuck You, You Rule: ST 37's Greatest "Hits" (Record Review)

Oct. 20, 2017

Saturday ACL Fest Interview: Benjamin Booker
Saturday ACL Fest Interview: Benjamin Booker
3pm, Miller Lite stage

Oct. 13, 2017


Lou Ann Barton

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)