Cyndi Lauper, with her 80s pop classics like Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Time After Time, and She Bop, had us dancing and singing along; however, it isn’t until this last decade with 2003’s album of standards At Last, 2005’s The Body Acoustic, and 2008’s dance extravaganza Bring Ya to the Brink, that she’s had listeners realizing how great she really is. Her voice is a natural force and she can really hit those notes. Not everyone can sing “At Last” but Cyndi can, and her version is my favorite.
Now she’s signing the blues. With her recently released Memphis Blues, she pays homage to the Delta and is joined by great musicians, including the blues legend B.B. King.
As soon as you hear the opening bars of Charlie Musslewhite’s harmonica on the first track, “Just Your Fool,” you know you’re in for something pretty cool. The playful piano of Allen Toussaint is featured on three tunes; B.B. King lends his guitar and vocals on “Early in the Mornin’,” and Ann Peebles duets with Lauper on “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” one of the standout songs on the album. Her best partner though, is Jonny Lang, the 29-year-old who has always been talented beyond his years. Their vocals and Jonny’s guitar licks make “How Blue Can You Get?” and “Crossroads” sizzle. Her solos “Down So Low,” “Romance in the Dark,” and “Shattered Dreams” are scorchers!
Blues music, as does the city itself, brings out the best in Lauper. She dedicates this album to “the early blues artists who traveled through the cross roads, suitcase in hand, to Memphis.” On Memphis Blues, Lauper has reinvented herself and has confirmed her true artistry yet again. She’s singing those blues as though she’s lived them!
Today is B.B. King’s 83rd birthday! He was born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925 and was named the third-greatest guitarist of all-time by Rolling Stone magazine. He received the 1987 Lifetime Achievement Grammy and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Several of B.B.’s early recordings were produced by Sam Phillips, who later founded Sun Records in Memphis, TN. King was also a disc jockey in Memphis, where he got the nickname “Beale Street Blues Boy,” which was then shortened to “B. B.” Since the 1950s, B.B. has been one of the most important names in Blues and R&B music, with a long list of hits which include:
The Thrill is Gone (His biggest hit, 1969)
Click here to find out why B.B. named his guitar Lucille.
Live At The Apollo
Live At The Regal