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Middle-aged blues rocks out

Live & Uppity
Live & Uppity
By Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women

Alligator Records: 1998

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This review first appeared in the April 18, 1998 edition of the American Reporter.

Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women play blues for the '90s: Three middle-aged women who've seen it all singing about life's real challenges. Cheating men, lust and life's iniquities have dominated the five albums they've issued since 1990.

They've faced real challenges, too. Singer/guitarist Gaye Adegbalola was seriously ill for some time, forcing the band into hiatus for awhile. Original bassist Earlene Lewis went on to other projects during the medical layoff, leaving the band a duo with pianist Ann Rabson and Adegbalola for one album before expanding to include Andra Faye (who doubles on mandolin).

Their new live album is a raucous (an admittedly overused word, but appropriate here) run-through of most of their favorite songs from the other albums, plus a few new chestnuts thrown in as well.

Rabson plays as much boogie woogie piano as anyone – reminiscent of Jeannie Cheatham's Kansas City-styled keyboard work. Faye and Adegbalola provide a solid backbeat – who needs a drummer anyway? Adegbalola is the best singer of the bunch, with the lowdown growl of an irate tigress. The other two are okay singers, but not nearly as moving as Adegbalola.

A quick glance at the song titles tells you everything else you need to know about the music of Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women: "Silver Beaver," "You Can Have My Husband," "Dump That Chump," "Middle Aged Blues Boogie" and their signature title, "Bitch With a Bad Attitude."