Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Mable John - Your Good Thing (Is About To End)

Mable John
I first heard of Mable John years ago after picking up a comp of all-female funky soul (I can’t remember the title but it was on Rhino, if that’s any help). That same CD turned me on to the Apollas and Laura Lee. Mable was the sister of the mighty Little Willie John ("Fever", "All Around The World"), and was one of the earliest artists to record for the Tamla label (she also did time as a Raelette). ‘Your Good Thing (Is About To End)’, from the summer of 1966 ( a Hayes/Porter composition, it was actually a top 10 R&B hit) is a stone solid ballad/warning that features a beautifully modulated performance by Mable. She opens the tune with a mellow touch, reaching for the ceiling now and then, ending the verse/starting the chorus with a “Look out!”, just to let her man know she’s serious. The record also features some of those real tasty Stax horns (props also going to whoever is playing that fatback guitar…), and some bluesy – and slightly out of tune - piano. There’s a real gospel flair here, which comes as no surprise since after leaving Stax in 1968 Mable John quit the world of secular music and gave that powerful voice over to Jesus. The flip side, ‘It’s Catching’ is a great, mid-tempo on the way to upbeat number with tight, funky (and loud, sounding like the mike was inside the snare, hello Al Jackson) drums and organ and some cool backing vocals. What’s so cool about Mable John is the fact that, although she was initially a “blues” performer, she is as representative as any “soul” singer of the era of the intersection of blues, gospel and rock that made the best soul record so transcendent. Her voice sounds as if it were pulled right out of the Amen Corner, wrapped in a Saturday night dress and rinsed in a whole lot of “been done wrong” on the way to Soul Street. Strangely enough (considering that it was a hit) the only currently available CD of Mable John’s Stax recordings omits ‘Your Good Thing (Is About To End)’. I would suggest that tracking down the original 45 (one of the finest two-siders of the 60’s) would be money well spent (and not all that much in the end).


Blogger Dan Phillips said...

The ever-able Ms Mable is always a fave at our house. Nice to see (hear) you going to Stax< Larry. I grew up in Memphis and all through high school in the '60's hung out at Pop Tunes, a record shop near my house. I remember my friends who worked there opening the boxes of fresh Stax and Volt singles and dropping them on the turntable one after another. It was a party every day in that place.

I missed your near disaster. Glad you found a way through. Reminds me of the time Oliver at soul sides mentioned HOTG and I got 900 hits in one day and a whole lot of sucked bandwidth. Such is the peril of good publicity.

6/21/2005 06:00:00 PM  
Anonymous cj grogan said...

I love Mable. A smoking vocal, well written song, and a great arrangment. I like the Bacharach/Oliver Nelson chords very stylistic soul with one foot in the old and one in the new. Nice find sir, nice find.

6/21/2005 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Scott Soriano said...

I've been picking up Mable John 45s for about 10 years now and her voice is so good that even the "bad" ones are good. Some ladies can do that. Besides the obvious ones (Etta, Aretha, Tina, Gladys...) Maxine Brown comes to mind as a lady that always turns out a good vocal even on a weak song.

6/22/2005 04:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How 'bout the the flip side? Ms. Mable is great!

6/24/2005 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Morris, ed. said...

I've heard a lot of versions of this classic - Kim Lembo, Etta James (studio & live), Bar-Kays, Boz Scaggs, Neil Merrywether, O. V. Wright - but honestly, Mable nails it, hard. Perfectly judged vocals - she pulls back and explodes at just the right times. The definition of soul. Thanks for this great tribute.

2/19/2010 09:29:00 PM  

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