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In Between Tears
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A lost classic that captures deep soul at its most poignant and resonant, couching Thomas deeply affecting vocals in earthy arrangements that emphasize the singer s gospel roots. AMG // Produced by legendary soul singer / songwriter / producer Jerry Williams Jr., aka Swamp Dogg, and featuring Duane Allman on two songs, In Between Tears is finally back on vinyl with its original cover for the first time since 1973. The CD digipack version also includes her single for Canyon records, as well as newly penned liner notes. Re-released for the first time on vinyl since ITS original release IN 1973!
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Still, I find that Swamp Dogg's snappiness actually nicely offsets Irma's quasi-cabaret inclinations, and her nuance and grace as performer and interpreter bring a depth and intensity to his songs that he himself can't always muster. It's a win-win -- just check out the absolutely majestic title track and the devastating "What's So Wrong With You Loving Me?" Fine stuff, and the production, which is tight but lets the rough side drag a little, is ideal -- and for this listener, much more appealing than Irma's more lauded (and MUCH slicker) Rounder disks of the '80s, '90s, and '00s.
A lost bit of '70s soul, and a real treasure to have in it's original form (although it should be mentioned that this entire album, plus some stray singles, are available via Ace Records on a comp called "A Woman's Viewpoint"). No matter how you find it, it's a stone classic.
That said, if you are enjoying the nicely pressed vinyl edition of this record (and other Swamp Dogg-related titles on Alive), you WILL like me be disappointed that the LP editions:
- Do not include the liner notes and photos featured in the CD versions.
- Do not include the bonus tracks on the CD editions.
- Do not provide a complimentary digital download of the music (this would have been the best way to distribute the bonus tracks to vinyl consumers).
- Are packaged in flimsy paperboard sleeves (a small complaint -- they can't all be Stoughton, I guess)
It's almost as though Alive is trying to punish people who purchase the more expensive format. Classy. I emailed them and asked if it would be possible to just get an electronic copy of the liner notes, and they replied and said that would be "very complicated." Yeah. Putting a low-res PDF--or just the text--on a secret page of your website is SO HARD. Docked a star for this needless oversight.
UPDATE: Alive Records is now including a flier with the liner notes from the CD editions when you order the LPs directly from them. It doesn't address every issue, but it is a nice gesture and is much appreciated.
Alas, in between, her great voice--which is her great ocean liner--was lost in inferior productions and second rate songs, and her career adrift in a Sargasso sea of mediocrity. This CD is rightly advertised as a "lost" CD--however, the copy I bought went over the top when the writer called it a masterpiece or classic or whatever misused cliche he used. The problem is not Irma Thomas' voice--which is magnificent--nor the musicians who played well. The songs are simply tired and uninspired and the arrangements ordinary. The CD sounds like typical early seventies soul, the close but no cigar music that every era throws up and is better just forgotten.
The CD packaging is exceptionally shoddy. The cover is just strange; the linear notes are worse than strange. The producer of this CD, Swamp Dogg, channels humor I don't share--I don't find it amusing that a producer should boast that he owns the rights to release this CD and that Irma Thomas ignored him years after he produced this mess. Considering that he apparently actively harassed her, I don't find her reaction surprising.
Duane Allman does show up on two of the cuts.
This is not a terrible CD--it is simply average--from an artist who is normally good and often great.