I’ll tell you right off the top that I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Ann Rabson’s second solo CD for a while. It arrived at my door today; the same day it hit the shelves of the record shops.
Ann is well known to blues addicts everywhere for her solo work and as a part of the successful blues band "Saffire: The Uppity Blueswomen". Ann started performing at the age of 35 and has been puttin’ whitecaps on the beer everywhere she appears for a number of years. In my opinion, she is one of the hottest performers on the blues scene today. A number of her fans, including this writer, have been encouraging Ann to inject more of her great barrelhouse piano style into her next recording. Well, she did it in grand style at Cue Studios in her native Virginia. She loves their piano because of its beautiful tone at the bottom end.
The new solo album includes 16 great tunes including many of Ann’s originals and some by Memphis Slim, Chuck Berry and Brownie McGhee. Rabson plays electric guitar on "The Blues Don’t Care" and it’s the first time she has recorded with the instrument, always relying on her acoustic Gibson.
Ann’s voice is strong, clear and exploding with humor and fun. The lady is an absolute joy to hear and her extensive bookings are proof of her acceptance in America, Canada and Europe.
Her piano style was influenced by a number of legends including Tut’s Washington and her "main man", Jimmy Yancey. On her composition, "Hassle Attack," I notice a bass figure employed in the 20s by Cow Cow Davenport. However, her solo piano piece, "Careless Boogie" shows the beginning of a style, I’ll refer to as "Pure Annie." Ann has taken the old W.C. Handy composition, Careless Blues, and stretched it into 4 ½ minutes of delightful boogie woogie which builds slowly to a crescendo in the last couple of minutes. Bravo Ann!
I found all the tracks to be exciting and well executed but there are a few "standouts" in the bunch. Lucille Bogan’s "Struttin’ My Stuff," "Sportin’ Life Blues," "Late November Afternoon" and Rabson’s own "Love Song (Ode to George)" are really "special."
This record will take a place of honor on my shelf along with my other Saffire and Rabson items.