Phoebe Snow – S/T [TrackList follows] – Capitol Records/Analogue Productions CAPP2100SA (1974) stereo-only SACD, 36:24 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:
23-year-old Phoebe Snow burst onto the pop scene in 1974 with her self-titled release on Capitol Records. Possessing a brilliant contralto voice and mature scat singing skills, her first album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard charts, largely based on the success of her hit, “Poetry Man.” She continued to record throughout the 1970s, and then her recording output greatly diminished.
Releasing just periodic albums, her fans wondered what had happened to Phoebe. What she had kept private was the fact that she had been caring for her severely brain-damaged daughter for over three decades. Her daughter passed away in 2008. What is even more tragic was the fact that that just two years later in 2010, Snow suffered a brain hemorrhage leading to her own passing in April 2011.
We have her music to ease her passing, and it is a special treat to welcome the re-release of her initial album in superb SACD acoustics. Kevin Gray of Analogue Productions has done the mastering of this disc and his expertise shows both in experiencing Phoebe’s vibrato as well as the upfront mix of her backing musicians.
What makes revisiting this reissue even more special is the quality of her backing sidemen. You’ll find legendary pianist, Teddy Wilson, on “Harpo’s Blues,” along with Zoot Sims and Bob James on organ. Zoot plays on two other tracks as well. Dave Mason makes an appearance on “No Show Tonight,” and David Bromberg on guitar and dobro is featured. Also check out The Persuasions on backup vocals on “Let the Good Times Roll.” This was a first class production, especially for a new artist on the scene.
Listening to Phoebe’s voice back in 1974 was a unique experience, as much as hearing Joni Mitchell or Joan Armatrading for the first time. Phoebe could cover folk, jazz, and blues tunes with distinctive ease.
Reliving “Poetry Man” and “Harpo’s Blues” in SACD acoustics was a bittersweet experience. The love of a devoted mother was rightfully more important and noble than a musical legacy.
TrackList: Let the Good Times Roll, Harpo’s Blues, Poetry Man, Either or Both, San Francisco Bay Blues, I Don’t Want the Night to End, Take Your Children Home, It Must Be Sunday, No Show Tonight