Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Lately, Cyndi Lauper is many things: American Idol guest, Lady Gaga sidekick, relevant again. So it's the perfect time for her to make . . . classic blues covers? Memphis Blues is a curveball, but that's its charm. It's fun to hear Lauper go all badass Betty Boop on "Don't Cry No More" and "Rollin' and Tumblin'," squeaking and hollering with help from Ann Peebles, Allen Toussaint and B.B. King. The world might not need another version of "Crossroads." But Lauper's got great sass on "Early in the Mornin'," teasing her band, "What you dooo-in'?" No doubt what they're doin' is listening to her with amusement." -RollingStone
"From the moment we first saw her - making crazy eyes at paternal foil Captain Lou Albano in the Girls Just Want to Have Fun video - Cyndi Lauper was one of pop culture's most sly feminists. Through comedy and verve came pop and politics: She Bop let girls know that onanistic fantasies weren't just for the Porky's gang; the ballad True Colors made her a gay icon, too. She battled pro wrestlers, fought for civil liberties. Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper, 5-foot-3 and indefatigable.
Now 57 and bleached Baywatch blond, the spritely New Yawker doesn't have much time for the radio these days. Her new album, released this week, is an analog-rustic collection of old gutbucket howlers called Memphis Blues. Despite its lack of commercial sheen, however, it's still much a Lauper endeavour: Girls Just Wanna Get Low, Too.
She surrounds herself with mostly male blues giants: B.B. King, Jonny Lang, Allen Toussaint, although Memphis soul staple Ann Peebles helps out, too. Lauper tackles songs originally written from a macho point of view: Muddy Waters' Rollin' and Tumblin', Robert Johnson's Crossroads. Charmingly, lustfully, she takes the canon and flips it, the lady in charge of the lads. Now who's got the moonshine?
Setting up in Memphis's Electraphonic Recording studio, and with a who's-who of session players firing live around her, Lauper calls out the arrangements on the fly. It sounds rough, beautifully musty, like a crate of old Stax albums discovered in the corner of your basement.
The 11-track, 45-minute gem opens with Just Your Fool, in which Lauper's inimitable voice dukes it out with the brawny mouth harp of Memphis' own Charlie Musselwhite. There's still that Kewpie doll curl to Lauper's vocals, but you forget how she can quickly switch to a full-throttle midrange that cyclonically blows your hair back. It's a cutthroat tactic, seduce and destroy. In other words, be careful who you're calling "Kewpie doll."
Musselwhite continues to play romantic counterpart to Lauper, as do the old Stax Records combo of Skip Pitts and Lester Snell, on guitar and keyboards respectively. New Orleans pianist Toussaint heads northeast to join Lauper on such cuts as the torcher Shattered Dreams and the shaggy Mother Earth. You can tell they're in love, too.
But Lauper, who will bring all her blues to Ruth Eckerd Hall on Aug. 4, generates the most high heat with the guitar stars: King and Lang. They push her, she pushes back and you can feel the sweat sopping. With Toussaint laying down the groove, B.B. and his new lady love duck and weave all over the utterly rambunctious Early in the Morning. At 84, the Beale Street Blues Boy can still roar.
With his guitar fuzzed to a roadhouse crunch, Lang helps Lauper end the album with a slow-building take on Johnson's Crossroads. They eye each other, stalk each other, Lang's picking growing frenetic, agitated, furious. But this is the lady's show, of course, and her final vocal turn seals the deal. After all, when Cyndi Lauper goes down to theCrossroads, even the devil knows he's beat." -Tampabay
Memphis Blues is the eleventh studio album by American singer Cyndi Lauper, nominee for the Grammy Awards 2010, was released on June 22, 2010.
Lauper performed songs from the album on The Late Show with David Letterman on June 14. Lauper is supporting the album with theMemphis Blues Tour.
Lauper appeared on The Joy Behar Show on June 21, The Howard Stern Show and The Ellen Degeneres Show on June 22, Good Morning America on June 23 and Live with Regis and Kelly on June 24.
Lauper was honored at the 2010 NARM Awards and performed several songs from the Memphis Blues album at the event.
Lauper appeared on The Early Show on July 20th.. She performed "Crossroads" with Jonny Lang on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on August 30th.
Rolling Stone (p.80) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "MEMPHIS BLUES is a curveball, but that's its charm."
Living Blues (p.46) - "[T]he pop powerhouse wisely surrounds herself with respected blues talents like Charlie Musselwhite, B.B. King, Ann Peebles, and Allen Toussaint..."
Billboard (p.32) - "Cyndi Lauper means business on her new album, MEMPHIS BLUES....Lauper wraps her elastic voice around all 11 tracks with such taste and passion."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.108) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Lauper revives the manner of blues chanteuses like Julia Lee, Lil Green or Nellie Lutcher with pizzazz..."
Personnel: Charles "Skip" Pitts (guitar); Kirk Smothers (tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Derrick Williams (tenor saxophone); Marc Franklin (trumpet); Lester Snell (piano, organ); Howard Grimes (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: William Wittman.
Photographer: Ellen Von Unwerth.
Cyndi Lauper tackles several classic blues songs on her 11th studio album.
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