Monday, August 28, 2006

Two Looks At Fontella Bass

Fontella Bass:

Safe and Sound
How Glad I Am

Fontella Bass' 1965 smash "Rescue Me" is part of the canon of immortal soul songs due in part Fontella's full-throttle delivery (one writer referred to her performance as being "Aretha before Aretha" - at that time, Aretha was still doing jazz and pop for Columbia; her meeting with Jerry Wexler was a good year or so away)and the awesome groove laid down by the Chess house band. Naturally, follow-up records were made to ride out the hit's momentum. "Safe and Sound" was the second such tune (the first being "Recovery") and it's pretty good despite its derivative nature. Today's second selection came from Fontella's LP The New Look, her third Checker LP. The New Look was an attempt to show off Bass' versatility as a singer and it features some deep soul and soul and pop covers. Bass' readings of "Our Day Will Come" and "How Glad I Am" are my favorites from that set. Over a sweet, jazzy background, Bass sings in an almost conversational tone, with great results. Despite Bass' mega-hit, her jazz chops were very strong and her marriage to Lester Bowie would lead her further in that direction as the '60s gave way to the '70s.

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