Friday, April 24, 2015

Irma Thomas

Anyone Who Knows What Love Is Will Understand.

Irma Thomas was a long forgotten memory from the early sixties radio. It's her song "While The City Sleeps" from her first 1964 Imperial label  album "Wish Someone Would Care" that I remember. "While The City Sleeps" doesn't appear to have been released as a single or a B-side. How did I hear this cut? Radio didn't play album cuts as a rule until Beatlemania.
Irma Thomas' recording career started at the time of Beatlemania and the first wave of the British Invasion. The sounds on rock n' roll radio was being torn apart and R&B and "Oldies" radio separated itself along with the already separated Black Radio stations like WDAS and WHAT in Philadelphia.
I was way into the Beatles but I still loved the Chiffons, Crystals, Elvis and other music's under the sun. "While The City Sleeps" has a 60's stylized rhythm and beat with a great vocal for a haunting finish. I remember hearing the haunting end of the song one other time and I never heard the song again. It became a really cool song by someone who's name I didn't know.
I now realize that I was also familiar with Irma's rendition of "I Count The Tears" but didn't know her name or any association to "While The City Sleeps."

It was a time where success could easily elude the dynamic vocals of a new-comer for the next big thing. R&B and the "Girl Group" phenomenon was quickly becoming "Last Years Girl." A new act such as Irma in the older genre found more regional success while the larger markets went in a new direction. Her previous gems from smaller record labels went unknown to the larger market.

The market was different back then. Today most everything is marketed everywhere through the same modes of media so most everyone can access it. Back then there was regional markets for the sounds of music that somehow had to spread itself to the mass market. 
Mass media radio exploded and soon isolated radio markets such as race, culture, and multi-language broadcast radio became more isolated in the mass culture.
It was fate that I found Irma singing "While The City Sleeps" on another blog called "Dusty Seven's." It's a visual treat of yester-year and the sounds of the time.
This sent me on a quest to find as many recordings by Irma Thomas to listen too. It also gave me insight of a women who never stopped doing what she loved to do the most, to sing. Her recording career was not stellar but it was always respectable.
Things change and honor was not denied. In 2007 Irma won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album for "After The Rain", her first Grammy in a career spanning over fifty years.
This is her biggest hit record from 1964, "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is."

Today Irma is known as "The Soul Queen of New Orleans." She continues to pack in the crowds performing the sounds of jazz, blues and gospel when ever she performs live.
Here's some well written history on Irma Thomas and at Wikipedia.
Irma Thomas Official Web Site.

This is my Irma Thomas mix from all the recordings I could find. It may not be the most comprehensive but it's still a fine collection of a women and her amazing career in music.
I hope you like this effort Irma.

01. Anyone Who Knows What Love Is
02. Break Away
03. Don't Mess With My Man
04. Wish Someone Would Care
05. Girl Needs Boy
06. I Count The Tears
07. I Need Your Love So Bad
08. It's Raining
09. While The City Sleeps
10.  It's To Soon To Know
11. I Need You So
12. Straight From The Heart
13. Time Is On My Side
14. *It's To Soon To Know_demo   

as told by roman blazic

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