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R&B - Released January 1, 2011 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Although it should have been issued the previous year and Imperial Records even had a catalog designation reserved for the project (LP-9275), Irma Thomas' second long-player for the label also turned out to be her last. The vocalists professional relationship with songwriter/producer Allen Toussaint had been established several years earlier on the R&B hit "It's Raining." Here, he supplies a third of the disc's material beginning with the optimistic and stylishly orchestrated "Take a Look" -- giving the album both its title track and opening selection. The upbeat and sassy "Teasing, But Your Pleasing" is another Toussaint-penned tune and exemplifies the symbiosis between the artist and composer as the catchy melody and Thomas' carefree delivery are a custom fit. That certainly isn't to imply that she has lost any of her emotive capacity, as she so aptly demonstrates throughout the effort, and nowhere more so than "I Haven't Got Time to Cry," or Jerry Ragavoy's "You Don't Miss a Good Thing (Until It's Gone)" -- arguably William Bell's blueprint for "You Don't Miss Your Water." Thomas resonates a similar sensitivity on "It's Starting to Get to Me Now" sounding like a Dionne Warwick protégé thanks to the Burt Bacharach-like chord progressions and writing style of up-and-coming songsmith and producer Van McCoy. Still nearly a decade away from creating his own hits -- most notably the chart-topping dance monster "The Hustle" -- McCoy contributed a total of four selections. While his arrangement of "Some Things You Never Get Used To" could be an homage to the Bacharach/David classic "Walk on By," the edgier "He's My Guy" is an ideal match of singer and song as Thomas' attitude seethes right below the surface of her graceful delivery. Fans of Northern U.K. soul often rank the infectiously buoyant "Baby, Don't Look Down" among their favorite discotheque spins dedicated to preserving the spirit of the music and times. Wrapping up Take a Look are a final pair from Toussaint with the cheery and definitely Motown-inspired "What Are You Trying to Do." "Wait, Wait, Wait," on the other hand, is unique as it reflects Toussaint's early influence and love of '40s and '50s country and western music. One could easily hear Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, or Loretta Lynn lending their respective intonations to it. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Blues - Released January 1, 1997 | New Rounder

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
The Story of My LIfe stands out among latter-day Irma Thomas albums not only because she gives a consistently excellent performance, but because the record boasts three new songs from Dan Penn, who wrote some of the greatest soul songs of the '60s. While his new songs ("Hold Me While I Cry," "I Count the Teardrops," "I Won't Cry for You") aren't quite as strong as his best, they are nevertheless wonderful contemporary soul numbers, and they help make the record, the remainder of which is comprised of covers and slightly weaker new numbers, one of Thomas' best latter-day albums. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Blues - Released January 1, 1994 | New Rounder

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
During R&B's glory years -- the 1950s, '60s and '70s -- the African-American church provided one great singer after another. Church choirs served as a magnificent training ground for so many of the great soul shouters, and it clearly had a positive effect on Irma Thomas (arguably the greatest female soul singer to come out of New Orleans). At 52, Thomas celebrated her gospel heritage with this solid, heartfelt CD. Thomas' voice had held up quite well since the 1960s, and she brings an impressive range and a seemingly endless supply of emotion to songs like "Where We'll Never Grow Old," "Ask What You Will" and "Careful Hands." Walk Around Heaven reminds us that as impressive as her contributions to secular soul have been, Thomas hasn't forgotten the church. ~ Alex Henderson
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R&B - Released January 1, 1986 | New Rounder

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Irma Thomas balanced classic and contemporary sensibilities on this 1986 album. She did such songs as "Gonna Cry 'Til My Tears Run Dry" and "I Gave You Everything" from the 1960s, and also did more recent tunes, such as the title track and a good remake of "The Wind Beneath My Wings (Hero)." In the 1980s, there was little interest at urban contemporary stations in older, more soulful artists, and thus this worthy session got almost no attention outside New Orleans and the South. However, Irma Thomas can still sing with authority and quality. ~ Ron Wynn
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2004 | Stateside

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R&B - Released January 1, 2011 | Capitol Records

It's because of powerful platters such as this that vocalist Irma Thomas would rightfully garner the crown as the undisputed Queen of New Orleans' thriving R&B scene. She established her reputation as a no-nonsense soul sister with the attitude-driven "You Can Have My Husband (But Don't Mess with My Man)," "A Good Man," and the regional hit "Look Up" prior to landing at the Crescent City powerhouse Minit Records. It was there she joined forces with the musical wunderkind Allen Toussaint who provided Thomas her next batch of notable sides, specifically "It's Raining" and "Ruler of My Heart" (aka "Pain in My Heart"). She was also among those to make the transition to the significantly larger Imperial Records after they purchased Minit in 1963. Wish Someone Would Care (1964) was the first of two long-players that Thomas released during her brief (1964 -- 1966) run on the Imperial roster. The album opens with the yearning torch balladry of the title track "Wish Someone Would Care" featuring Thomas supported by the inimitable H.B. Barnum, who tempers her remarkably versatile voice in the first of several sensitive arrangements. "I Need Your Love So Bad" is reflective of the guttural and bluesy style commonly associated with the likes of Otis Redding and James Brown. Here, Thomas definitely gives the boys a run for their money. The melody of "Without Love (There Is Nothing)" bears a striking resemblance to the "Tennessee Waltz" during the languid verses. The chorus, however, finds Thomas calling on her gospel roots to really "sell" the performance to great aplomb. Her update of Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love" is a stone classic and easily takes on Odetta and Esther Phillips' respective versions with plenty of power to spare. "Time Is on My Side" -- initially relegated to a 45 rpm B-side -- found its way across the Atlantic ocean where it would take on a life of its own once the Rolling Stones covered it less than a year later. Similarly, Thomas' reading of the Jackie DeShannon co-penned "Break-A-Way" became a runaway smash throughout the bayou. And though it seemed to attract little attention elsewhere in the States, it has been remade to great effect by Tracey Ullman. Both the LP and single for Wish Someone Would Care crossed over onto the pop charts, simultaneously giving Thomas her only Top 40 single and Top 100 Album entry. ~ Lindsay Planer
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R&B - Released April 13, 2019 | REEL MUSIC

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Soul - Released April 22, 2016 | Rhino Atlantic

Atlantic Records was one of America's great soul labels, but as soul and R&B went through a transitional period in the early '70s, some of the label's stars found themselves lost in the shuffle, and while Atlantic doubtless had the best of intentions when they signed the great New Orleans soul diva Irma Thomas in 1971, they clearly didn't know what to do with her once they had her. Atlantic cut six sessions with Thomas over the course of ten months, but only two tracks were ever released, on a single issued by Atlantic's subsidiary label Cotillion Records. Full-Time Woman: The Lost Cotillion Album features both sides of that 45 as well as 13 other songs that the label felt weren't up to snuff. Heard decades later, it's hard to imagine what the Atlantic and Cotillion A&R staff were thinking -- while not every track here sounds like a smash, Thomas is in great voice throughout, the material is well suited to her abilities, and it's not hard to imagine "Waiting for Someone," "Our Love Don't Come That Easy," or "It's Eleven O'Clock (Do You Know Where Your Love Is)" racking up some radio play with their upbeat, dance-friendly arrangements and Thomas' outstanding vocals. And while her version of Styne and Cahn's "Time After Time" and the very dramatic string intro to "Shadow of the Sun" would be a bit much for most radio programmers, Thomas shows she works well in sophisticated settings, and her cover of Bobbie Gentry's "Fancy" is a tough, insouciant gem. Full-Time Woman isn't quite a lost classic, but these unreleased tracks confirm Thomas was still one of the great voices of Southern soul in the early '70s, and anyone who loved her latter-day work for Rounder is a sure bet to enjoy this. ~ Mark Deming
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R&B - Released June 9, 2015 | New Rounder

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R&B - Released June 9, 2015 | New Rounder

For a half century, Irma Thomas has been firmly established as the undisputed queen of New Orleans soul, and over the years has issued several standout recordings for the Rounder label. This collection features 15 of her very best works with no filler or sub-standard tracks, and includes three previously unissued tracks. Thomas taps on the deep wellspring of songwriters and performers from the Crescent City, including David Torkanowsky, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Doc Pomus, Doyle Bramhall II, Sonny Landreth, James Singleton, Stanton Moore, and Henry Butler among many others. This compilation, organized from her 25 years on the Rounder label, comes from six of her eleven albums, tacking on tunes from the Rhino collections I Believe to My Soul and 'Till The Night Is Gone; A Tribute to Doc Pomus, as well as the Nonesuch label collection Our New Orleans. The CD is highlighted by three selections from her all-time best and Grammy-award winning recording After the Rain, a post-Katrina anthem for the ages in and of itself. On a pure blues side, there's the raunchy, Bayou-humid thick "Another Man Done Gone" from After the Rain, and Bessie Smith's "Back Water Blues" via the compilation Our New Orleans -- both classics. Gospel-soul is always a part of the repertoire as heard on the confirmational tune "Let It Be Me" or "There Must Be a Better World Somewhere," co-written by Dr. John and Doc Pomus. Thomas specializes in downtrodden, brokenhearted songs such as the confused, sad ballad "What Can I Do?," "I Count the Tears" (from After the Rain) with a supportive chorus amid the gloomy mood, and the regretful ballad "Loving Arms." There's a funky, more commercial cover of the Purify Brothers' hit "I'm Your Puppet" with a horn section and popping electric bass guitar, a good-time rocker "The New Rules" affirming woman power, and the song of hope "River Is Waiting" with Butler's lively piano urging the band and singers to stand up and be counted. Thomas owns the kind of voice that is universally likable, never straining for high notes, unwavering in her soulful content, and as precise as any vocalist could dream of. She's simply precious, direct, stirring, and exciting no matter the style or lyric content. Though all of her individual CD's are easily recommended, this one is a must-have for collectors of greatest-hits packages, and especially those who for some reason have not yet discovered this brilliant American artist -- truly one of a kind. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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R&B - Released January 29, 2016 | New Rounder

Irma Thomas deserves hits and wider exposure more than almost any other R&B vocalist you could name. While the material on this album is uneven, she retains her credibility regardless. It takes real guts to cover "Dancing in the Street" and "Baby I Love You," and even more talent not to be subsumed by their history. She's vibrant on "Old Records," hard-hitting on "You Don't Know Nothin' About Love," and poignant on "Sorry Wrong Number," "Sit Down and Cry," and "I'll Take Care of You." ~ Ron Wynn
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R&B - Released January 1, 1991 | New Rounder

Irma Thomas has long been an institution in New Orleans-based R&B. This live CD is both a strong introduction to her powerful voice and a summation of her career up to 1990, mixing together remakes of some of her mid-'60s recordings with more current material. Cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd, Thomas sounds inspired and in her prime throughout the consistently passionate set. Of the highlights, "Hip Shakin' Mama" is a humorous blues, "I Needed Somebody" is especially soulful (if overly repetitive near its conclusion), "It's Raining" is memorable, and "Second Line Medley" effectively mixes in a touch of Dixieland with R&B. An excellent introduction to the talented Irma Thomas. ~ Scott Yanow
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Blues - Released January 1, 2001 | New Rounder

It's a crime that soul singer Irma Thomas isn't a household name. Her recordings for the Minit and Chess labels in the 1960s and 1970s remain classics of the genre, and one of her compositions, the torchy "Time Is on My Side," was a big hit for a young British band called the Rolling Stones. She took some time off to raise a family, but came back on the scene in the late '70s, and in 1984 she teamed up with producer Scott Billington to make a series of albums for the Rounder label. The songs collected here were all recorded between 1985 and 1999, and all but one were previously released on those earlier albums. Thomas' singing style and the playing of her various backing musicians is so consistent, though, that it's almost impossible to tell which tracks were recorded when; every one partakes of that joyful mix of New Orleans steam and chugging Memphis soul that has become her trademark. The songs are all classics -- the Dan Penn composition "If You Want It, Come and Get It," Paul Kelly's "The New Rules," Doc Pomus and Dr. John's "I Never Fool Nobody but Me." And there's even a gospel tune, the exuberant "Yield Not to Temptation" (with backing vocals by Marcia Ball and Tracy Nelson). Any fan of soul music ought to own all of the albums from which this collection was taken, but this disc is a good place to start. ~ Rick Anderson
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R&B - Released January 1, 1992 | New Rounder

Like her first two efforts for Rounder, True Believer is a stellar collection of contemporary soul performed in the classic '50s New Orleans tradition. The difference is in conception. True Believer focuses on heartbreak songs, and there is genuine anguish in Irma Thomas' voice, making new songs by the likes of Dan Penn, Dr. John, Tony Joe White, Allen Toussaint, and Doc Pomus sound like instant classics. Another excellent effort from a woman who has plenty to her credit. ~ Thom Owens
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Blues - Released January 1, 2008 | New Rounder