Carla Thomas — “More Man Than I’ve Ever Had”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — April 29, 2022

432) Carla Thomas — “More Man Than I’ve Ever Had”

George Starostin calls this killer track from Carla’s ‘69 album Memphis Queen a “funk-pop anthem.” He goes on:

[T]he gentle and romantic Carla Thomas is beginning to learn the basics of lusty, carnal music — still not quite up to the standards of Bessie Smith, but she does make the transition to a deeper, rougher range in order to explain how her man keeps her satisfied. It’s fun, but, unfortunately, not very believable from a performer whose brightest moment still remains ʽGee Whizʼ, a starry-eyed and purely innocent account of teenage love — the teenager may have grown up, but not into a sex-crazed lady who’d be ready to eat you alive at a moment’s notice. Nice try, though.

Rob Bowman gives us some of Carla’s story:

In the glorious decade and a half of sound that was Stax in the ’60s and early ’70s, Carla Thomas was the Queen of Memphis Soul. [S]he recorded a duet with her father Rufus Thomas, giving the fledgling Satellite label its first taste of success with the regional hit “Cause I Love You.” [S]he cut her first solo single, the teen ballad “Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes)[,” which] gave Satellite its first national hit, breaking the Top Ten mark on both the R&B and pop charts. Shortly thereafter Satellite became Stax, and Carla proceeded to claw her way onto the national charts another 22 times with such immortal slices of soul as her answer song to Sam Cooke, “I’ll Bring It on Home to You,” as well as “Let Me Be Good to You,” “B-A-B-Y,” “Tramp” (with Otis Redding), and “I Like What You’re Doing to Me.” Carla released six solo albums and, with Redding, one duet album on Stax between 1961 and 1971.;

The Concord label talks about Memphis Queen:

The [album] represent[ed an] effort[] to expand [her] appeal . . . into the pop arena. Stax Records executive Al Bell felt that the sexy singer, then in her mid-twenties, could become another Diana Ross and recruited Detroit producer Don Davis to come up with a cross between the Motown and Memphis sounds. Thomas’s honey-toned pipes and lilting turns of phrase proved ideally suited to the project, titled Memphis Queen . . . .

Oh, and when asked by NPR’s Peter Sagal what defined soul music, Carla responded “Well, soul is this expressive thing. You know, it comes from the spirit. And you can’t sing soul music unless you have a spiritual feeling for the music, you know.” Sagal came back with: “Right, so it’s sort of like gospel music, but instead of Jesus, you’re singing about sex. That’s just my theory.” To which Carla pondered “Or hey, the lack of it or whatever.”

Take that, Starostin!

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