Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ann Peebles

  • Part Time Love [Hi, 1970] A-
  • Straight from the Heart [Capitol, 1972] A-
  • I Can't Stand the Rain [Hi, 1974] B+
  • Tellin' It [Hi, 1975] B-
  • If This Is Heaven [Hi, 1977] B
  • The Handwriting Is on the Wall [Hi, 1978] B-
  • Full Time Love [Bullseye Blues, 1992] **

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Part Time Love [Hi, 1970]
Suggesting what we already knew: that good soul music is more a matter of faith than of fashion. Wilson Pickett may have lost his, but this twenty-three-year-old is just beginning to testify. Her background is gospel and her dynamic blues, the perfect combination, and even when the songs aren't first-rate, which they usually are, her lean, slightly burred timbre meshes with the incredibly spirited Memphis music (Memphis is where even session men believe) to intensify their meaning. Among my faves: "Give Me Some Credit" (downhome girl-group) and "It's Your Thing" (it's hers, bro). I just wish there were a dozen songs instead of ten. Time: 26:59. A-

Straight from the Heart [Capitol, 1972]
Why gritty singing like this can't be heard on "progressive" radio when a borderline hysteric like Lydia Pense is an automatic add ought to be investigated by the Civil Rights Commission. "I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home Tonight" is pre-ideological female rage, and the woman shows her sense of roots and prerogatives by coming up with competitive covers on both Bobby Bland and Sam & Dave. Time: 26:08. A-

I Can't Stand the Rain [Hi, 1974]
After two hot albums that didn't sell and a smoldering single that did, Peebles slides into the best-selling Al Green groove and doesn't quite catch fire. Reason: neither her raw honey timbre nor her bright, direct personality give her much access to Green's incendiary guile. Salvation: the Hi rhythm team. B+

Tellin' It [Hi, 1975]
Peebles's small, rough-cut ruby of a voice can't buy her Aretha's kind of time, her hesitant pursuit of a dramatic frame, an artistic self, will never do the duty of a real persona. Which may mean that Willie Mitchell is wrong for her. Not only does this seamless funk deprive her of the sharply accentuated settings her instrument was created for, but his concentration on music to the exclusion of image leaves her singing warmed-over Millie Jackson wife-and-other-woman lyrics with the wan confusion they deserve. B-

If This Is Heaven [Hi, 1977]
Peebles believes heaven is doing it every night after the kids have gone to bed ("I'm So Thankful"), and if only she'd work a little harder on her Mavis Staples impression ("It Must Be Love") she'd make a believer out of me. B

The Handwriting Is on the Wall [Hi, 1978]
More tough talking about sex and love (and sex)--unfalteringly funky, consistently credible, and mildly enjoyable. Great one: "Old Man With Young Ideas." B-

Full Time Love [Bullseye Blues, 1992]
beats the part-time variety in life, but not necessarily in art ("Bouncin' Back," "Fear No Evil," "Miss You") **

See Also