“Wish Someone Would Care” by Irma Thomas - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1964Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s

TJR says

After a string of great singles in the last few years, Irma’s talent was recognised in 1964 when she gained a promotion of sorts, landing with Imperial Records. She was whisked away from New Orleans to Hollywood where she was paired with producer Eddie Ray and arranger H.B. Barnum. “There was a different approach to how recordings were done, but not strange,” said Irma. “I’m a gypsy at heart. I’m pretty much at home anywhere I park my butt. There were a lot of black artists who were stretching into the pop field. I had a very – in fact, I still do; it depends on what I’m singing – poppish-sounding voice. I guess they were reaching for areas they could sell. I mean, I was happy. The songs were very comfortable to me. It wasn’t like I was a fish out of water.” For the very first time, Irma got to record one of her own compositions, “Wish Someone Would Care”, where she unleashed a whole lot of inner turmoil to devastating effect. Her performance, genuinely dripping with raw emotion, was wonderfully backed by a killer band and terrific soul-sister support from The Blossoms. The single proceeded to rise all the way to #17 in the Billboard 100, giving Irma her first ever hit single after 4 years of should-have-beens. Thrilled by this success, an album of works was quickly on the agenda. Those who bought the album on the strength of the single would have been absolutely delighted to find that there was plenty more where that had come from.

After the single opens the set, Irma gets straight to R n B roots with a fantastic reading of “Need Your Love So Bad” (Little Willie John, 1955), a spine-tingling rendition of “Without Love (There Is Nothing)” (Clyde McPhatter, 1956) and a bluesy, yearning interpretation of “Please Send Me Someone To Love” (Percy Mayfield, 1950). The album’s excellence is maintained straight from the off on Side 2 with “Time Is On My Side”, a little-known jazzy piece from 1963 which was completely recrafted by team Irma to make it the legendary soul song that it is. The Rolling Stones were moved enough to take it on – and they went all the way into the US Top 10 with their quickly-released cover. Irma herself was fuming about the whole affair as her single sales were completely diluted:

“The only time I ever got angry about a cover was, and I knew then that it was the best form of flattery, but what really angered me more was the fact that the Rolling Stones did it. At the time, the English Invasion was going on, and everything that was English, they didn’t care what color it was or who it was. If it was English, it was it! And they covered ‘Time Is On My Side,’ and they laughed all the way to the bank. And then after that, they started saying, ‘Oh, you’re doing the Rolling Stones song!’ I wouldn’t do it for years. I think 20 years went by before I sung that song. It just angered me so.”

Ouch! Real music fans know Irma, real music fans know! What follows is just blindingly brilliant; three stone-classic originals in-a-row with “While The City Sleeps” (written for her by Randy Newman), “Straight From The Heart” (the second stunner from her own pen) and “I’ve Been There” (a delicious doo-wop ballad contributed by Wink Martindale and Gary Usher).

This debut was a creation full of majesty and, like all great albums, there is great strength in depth across all 12 of the tracks. Irma was ready for this, and she demonstrates her awesome soul power with a set that oozes class at every turn.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:20] 9.0.png Irma Thomas - Wish Someone Would Care (Irma Thomas) Soul
A2 [03:16] 8.0.png Irma Thomas - Need Your Love So Bad (Mertis John Jr.) Soul
A3 [02:57] 9.5.png Irma Thomas - Without Love (There Is Nothing) (Danny Small) Soul
A4 [02:30] 7.7.png Irma Thomas - Please Send Me Someone To Love (Percy Mayfield) Soul
A5 [03:04] 7.2.png Irma Thomas - Another Woman’s Man (Jimmy Norman, H. B. Barnum) Soul
A6 [02:20] 7.5.png Irma Thomas - Sufferin’ With The Blues (Teddy Conyers, Lloyd Pemberton) Soul
B1 [02:52] 8.9.png Irma Thomas - Time Is On My Side (Jerry Ragovoy, Jimmy Norman) Soul
B2 [02:23] 9.1.png Irma Thomas - While The City Sleeps (Randy Newman) Soul
B3 [02:28] 9.2.png Irma Thomas - Straight From The Heart (Irma Thomas) Soul
B4 [02:39] 9.2.png Irma Thomas - I’ve Been There (Wink Martindale, Gary Usher) Soul
B5 [02:24] 8.2.png Irma Thomas - I Need You So (Ivory Joe Hunter) Soul
B6 [02:33] 7.5.png Irma Thomas - Break-A-Way (Jackie DeShannon, Sharon Sheeley) Pop

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