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Ball's swamp blues a classic romp

Let Me Play With Your Poodle
Let Me Play With Your Poodle
By Marcia Ball

Rounder Records: 1997

This review first appeared in the Nov. 14, 1997 edition of the North County Times.

From the double-entendre laden blues of the title track to the country-tinged "Can't Trust My Heart" to the classic R&B duet (with Doyle Bramhall) of "How Big a Fool," Louisiana pianist Marcia Ball shows a lot of range on her new album.

Not that this should be a surprise to fans of Ball; her appearance with Austin singers Angela Strehli and Lou Ann Barton on the 1990 "Dreams Come True" showed Ball has a real feel for soul.

But her solo albums have tended more toward a swamp boogie groove than Memphis; even her publishing house is titled "Gatorhythms." But not only is she singing and playing some wonderful soul on her latest effort, she's writing it, too: "The Story of My Life" sounds as if it came out of one of the classic soul houses like Stax/Volt or Hi. Twenty-five years ago, that song's all over the radio.

Still, this is a brave new world, and unless you have pierced body parts and/or a permanent pout you can kiss the Top 40 goodbye. Pity, that, for Ball is not only a front-line singer, but she's one of the best at pounding the keyboards. She's up there with Professor Longhair and Tuts Washington in the New Orleans tradition – too bad most folks will never even hear of her, much less hear her.