SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
Ann Peebles – I Can’t Stop the Rain – Hi Records/ PurePleasure vinyl
Published on August 19, 2012
Ann Peebles – I Can’t Stop the Rain – Hi Record (1973)/ PurePleasure Records SHL32079 180 gram vinyl – Produced by Willie Mitchell; re-mastered by Kevin Gray ****½:
(Ann Peebles, vocals; Howard Grimes, drums; Jack Hale, trombone; Charles Hodges, keyboards; Leroy Hodges, bass; Mabon “Teenie” Hodges, guitar; Wayne Jackson, trumpet; Ed Logan, tenor saxophone; Andrew Love, tenor saxophone; James Mitchell, baritone saxophone; Archie Turner, piano; Rhode, background vocals; Memphis Sanctified Horns – horn section; Sandra Chalmers, background vocals)
Ann Peebles was the lead female vocalist signed to Willie Mitchell’s Hi Records label. Mitchell is more associated with signing the inimitable Al Green to his label and went on to produce many of Green’s signature hits. Willie was noted to use the Hi sound to his artists-organ fills, an outstanding horn section, and a steady drum beat.
All of these were provided to Ann Peebles back in 1973. Ann is most known for a sultry Southern voice and had her biggest hit with “I Can’t Stop the Rain.” The English audiophile label PurePleasure has used the services of legendary re-mastering engineer, Kevin Gray, to work his magic on Peebles’ signature LP. This record is filled with songs regarding the heartbreak of love. Backed by Mitchell’s use of horns and strings that made Al Green’s career, Peebles lets it all hang out, and with an audiophile upgrade, we get the benefit of Pebbles in her prime.
The album opens with the title cut. Peebles has a voice that can reach a falsetto peak. Backed by a drum beat that is in perfect 4/4 beat, and a punchy horn section, you can immediately tell why it worked so well for Al Green. “Do I Need You?” has Ann wonder why she should waste her time on a suitor and she reprises the title track’s refrain.
“Until You Came Into My Life” has sweet strings and is a ballad that Green would have eaten up. The background singers signify and Peebles hits the high notes, as her mood brightens. “Hangin’ On” brings the church into the romantic side of life, and you can imagine the Staple Singers singing this sweet song on the gospel circuit. It has one of the best arrangements on the LP. “Run, Run, Run” brings betrayal back into the mix as Side 1 ends with a great horn arrangement.
“If We Can’t Trust Each Other” brings trust out as the primary requirement for love to last. Howard Grimes’ drum beat is as steady as a Rolex, and the horns and strings sweeten the mood in counterpoint to the lyrics. “A Love Vibration” benefits from the background vocals and the sound mix perfected by Kevin Gray would be hard to match on CD.
“You Got to Feed the Fire” (to make the flame of love go higher) says it all on the next song. The warm strings belie the emotion of anger expressed in “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down.” Room by room, says Ann, and you know she means it…
“One Way Street” ends this classic album filled full of the pitfalls of love’s challenges. I Can’t Stand the Rain is classic Southern soul made possible by a master producer, Willie Mitchell. Motown back in the day featured bouncy lightweight catchy melodies. Hi Records, out of Memphis—like its counterpart Stax Records—dealt with the more realistic, gritty side of love.
Both are classic soul.
Ann Peebles is still with us. PurePleasure keeps her in her prime with magnificent sound. If Al Green is your chief male soul crooner, let Ann Peebles into your life…
Side 1: I Can’t Stand the Rain, Do I Need You?; Until You Came Into My Life; (You Keep Me) Hangin’ On; Run, Run, Run
Side 2: If We Can’t Trust Each Other, A Love Vibration, You Got to Feed the Fire, I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down, One Way Street