BY CARL HANNI
This long lost classic of Southern soul gets the reissue treatment from Alive Naturalsound, with two extra tracks added to the original eight. First released in 1973 on Swamp Dogg’s Fungus Records imprint, it saw a remarkable return for Thomas, the original queen of New Orleans soul, who had left Louisiana for Los Angeles in the wake of Hurricane Camille in 1969.
Produced and arranged by the gifted singer/songwriter/producer/arranger and major character Jerry Williams, Jr., aka Swamp Dogg, In Between Tears is another high-water mark of Southern soul under Dogg’s direction. William’s took Thomas to Macon, GA, and recorded In Between Tears at Capricorn Studios with a crackerjack band, including guitar player Jesse Carr, bass player Robert Popwell, organ player Paul Hornsby and drummer Squirm, with Williams on piano and occasional contributions from Duane Allman on guitar. This combo cooks up a seamless blend of Southern soul, occasionally shading towards country soul, all beautifully produced and arranged by Williams. As with the case of many Southern soul recordings of that era, the sound is a pinnacle of analog recording; warm, inviting, vital and with fabulous separation in the mix. The reissue is worth picking up for the sound alone, but fortunately In Between Tears is stacked with excellent performances and material, as well.
Check out the gospel tinged title track, the cheatin’ soul ballad “She’ll Never Be Your Wife,” the country-soul “What’s So Wrong With You Loving me” or the upbeat “You’re The Dog (I Do The Barking Myself”). Even better is the lovely “These Four Walls” and the almost-psych soul “We Won’t Be In Your Way Anymore.” And then there’s Thomas’ long, extended put-down monologue “Coming From Behind,” taking men to task for general cluelessness, that breathtakingly swings into “Wish Someone Would Care” and just carries your soul away.
Thomas is in absolutely top form throughout, belting, crooning and talking her way through ten tracks that tack from weary and hurt to defiant and uplifting, her strong, smoky voice sounding as good as it ever did.
Swamp Dogg, as usual, contributes cheeky, off the cuff liner notes, in this case containing possibly way more than we want to know about his and his band mates voyeuristic tendencies in the studio. It’s weird and a little creepy, but definitely entertaining.
DOWNLOAD: “In Between Tears,” “These Four Walls,” “What’s So Wrong With You Loving Me,” “We Won’t Be In Your Way Anymore.”