Saturday, February 15, 2014

Teeny Tucker - Voodoo To Do You!





TeBo Records, 2013

By Phillip Smith; February 15, 2014

Upon checking out the title, along with the track list, which includes song titles such as  “Voodoo Woman”, “Voodoo Voodoo”, “It’s Your Voodoo Working” , and “Love Spell”, one might be able to identify the recurring theme of Teeny Tucker's latest album, if hard-pressed.  That being said, Teeny Tucker doesn’t need voodoo to get anyone to love this recording, Voodoo To Do You!  She’s got it covered with powerful vocals, down-home blues,  choice song selections and a great band which includes guitarist Robert Hughes, bassist Robert Blackburn, drummer Darrell Jumper, David Gastel on harmonica and keyboards.  

Tucker kicks this thirteen track album off with a fantastic cover of Koko Taylor’s “Voodoo Woman”.  It’s fast paced Blues, buttered on one side with her cool raspy vocals, and on the other side, with Hughes’ killer electric riffs. Linda Dachtyl, sitting in on this one with her B3, adds a cohesive bonding that nicely pulls the song together.  Then without skipping a beat, the intro to Howlin’ Wolfs “Commit a Crime” gently rolls in.  Hughes scores big points on this one as he nicely sets the song in motion.  Introducing new lyrics, Tucker tackles this one from a woman’s point of view.  “Tough Lover” is another cover, with a little modification. This one isn’t your Etta James’ version. Tucker takes the original and slows it down a bit, which I think is a great decision.  Interestingly, as the tempo increases, Hughes briefly steers the song from Blues to Rockabilly before bringing it back home again. 

One of my favorite tracks on the album is Tucker’s rendition of “Death Don’t Have No Mercy”, originally by Gary Davis, and covered later by the Grateful Dead.  I love the guitar licks Hughes lays down on this dark and sullen song.  I can feel the emotion pouring off his guitar strings as he plays. This is probably the coolest song on the album.   

Tucker must have had her mojo working double time when she got the idea for the closer song, “Sun Room”.  This upbeat original, about the history and spirit of the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, coincidentally was recorded at the Sun Studios.  When this song plays,  I feel momentarily transported to the studio itself.  Tucker makes it easy to envision the iconic building at 706 Union Avenue, with her crafted lyrics.

As I find myself listening to this album over and over again, it’s no surprise to find out Teeny Tucker is nominated for the 2014 Blues Foundation’s Koko Taylor Award this year.  I think she deserves it.