Carla Thomas

Love Means Carla Thomas/Memphis Queen

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Although Carla Thomas had her share of R&B hits in the 1960s, the Queen of Memphis Soul wasn't as visible on the pop charts as Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick or Gladys Knight. Thomas wasn't a superstar in the pop world, but Stax's Al Bell believed she had the potential to become one and encouraged her to take a sleeker, more Motown-ish approach. Thomas had flirted with Northern soul sounds on some of her previous albums, and it became a primary direction on the LPs Memphis Queen and its follow-up Love Means..., which Fantasy combined on this single CD in 1997. Most of Queen was produced by Detroiter Don Davis, while the main producer on the even more pop-minded Love was Thomas' brother, Marvelle Thomas. Though this change of direction didn't turn Thomas into a pop superstar, she did have a major hit in "I Like What You're Doing (To Me)" and moderate hits with "You've Got a Cushion to Fall On" and "Guide Me Well." The soul goddess had a low opinion of Davis' production style, but the fact is that "Precious Memories," "Strung Out Over You" and other Davis-produced material is highly enjoyable. And the songs from Love are equally impressive. But sadly, Love turned out to be Thomas' final Stax project.

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