Edwards has a voice that can be compared very favorably to that of New Orleans’ Irma Thomas. It is a sweet and sultry instrument, as sexy as Donna Summer’s without the histrionics. It is also capable of belting out some mean blues, as heard on “Don’t Mess With My Man”, “Enough Of A Woman”, and the two versions of “Blues Part 2”. Gloria Edwards is one of those rare singers that can raise both the roof off the house and goose pimples on your arms, sometimes on the same song.
“Money”, Berry Gordy’s first Motown million-seller, definitely falls into the roof-raising category and launches us on our voyage of discovery. “I Don’t Need Nobody” was the song that almost broke her through in 1977, and her classy, jazz-tinged vocals here clearly demonstrate a world-class talent. The sassy “Settled For Less” bounces along behind the funkiest flute these ears have come across, along with a slew of sizzling double entendres.
A homage to Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” heralds in the showstopping “Blues Part 2”, and after hearing this one I defy you to name five female blues singers alive today who can bring this much power and pitch to the table. Check out the other take included here for a second opinion, if necessary. The organ-fuelled “Oh Me, Oh My” has more of a romantic, wee hours feel, with Edwards’ sharply enunciated vocals recalling Shirley Bassey and Eartha Kitt.
“Real Love”, “Lonely Girl”, “My Love Keeps Getting Stronger”, and “Really Got It Bad For My Baby” are all Motown-style numbers, complete with three-part backing vocals. To me, “Lonely Girl” stands out from the rest with its down-home feel and a more dynamic vocal performance.
“Don’t Mess With My Man” is a staple of postwar blueswomen, and Edwards’ funky version is among the best I’ve heard. Written by New Orleans Creole songstress Dorothy Labostrie (of “Tutti Frutti” fame) and cut by Irma Thomas, on hearing this rendition I wondered once again why this woman is not considered a national treasure. The rock-and-roller “You Ain’t Enough Woman” finds Edwards in a more confident mood vis-à-vis her beau.
Two songs, “I Can’t Take Another Heartache” and “Something You Couldn’t Write About” showcase Edwards’ more vulnerable side. “Something” finds Edwards rendering poignant a potentially cheesy (and a most un-PC one, with its reference to the Vietnamese love rival as “some slant-eyed woman”) Vietnam ballad. “I Can’t Take Another Heartache” was one of producer Huey Meaux’s standards, and Edwards handles it with aplomb.
Another highlight is Edwards’ Amazonian war-cry at the outset of “Our Love’s Not For Three” a bloodcurdling shriek of such wronged power as to send chills down the spine of any man foolish enough to ponder a dalliance behind this blueswoman’s back. Hell hath no wrath like a Soul Queen scorned….
So here we introduce you to an unjustly obscure talent. There’s a little bit of blues, some soul, a smidgen of Motown, and a touch of country, but it is all the regal deeds of the Soul Queen of Texas, Gloria Edwards.
John Nova Lomax, April 1999