Ann Peebles

The Complete Ann Peebles on Hi Records, Vol. 2

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Ann Peebles was the biggest female star at the Memphis-based R&B label Hi Records though the 1970s, and in 1974 she scored her biggest chart hit with the brilliant and idiosyncratic single "I Can't Stand the Rain," which was an ideal match of Peebles' strong, emphatic voice and Willie Mitchell's hard-grooving production. Peebles cut three more albums for Hi following the success of "I Can't Stand the Rain," and they're included in their entirety on this two-CD set. While Peebles is in superb voice on all three albums, each one sounds a bit different, reflecting the shifting trends in R&B during the second half of the 1970s. Tellin' It, from 1975, is in the manner of Peebles' biggest hit, and features the Hi Rhythm Section grooving lean and hard behind a set of solid songs dominated by powerful dance rhythms. Two years later, disco had temporarily overcome nearly everything in pop music, and 1977's If This Is Heaven suggests an uneasy compromise between the spare Southern soul that was Peebles' hallmark and the more polished and less rhythmically interesting sounds that were dominating the charts; Peebles makes the best of the material, which is strong for the most part, but it's the slower change-of-pace numbers where she sounds most at home. And finally, 1979's The Handwriting Is on the Wall is a raucous soul session with Peebles speaking her mind about affairs of the heart, and while it was cut after the Hi Rhythm Section had parted ways, it's a righteous blast of soul-blues and Peebles sounds like she's having a great time. Bonus tracks from the sessions for all three albums are included (most of which will please collectors without impressing anyone as lost masterworks), while disc two is rounded out with six non-LP tunes that appeared on singles after the release of The Handwriting Is on the Wall; only two were produced by Mitchell, and most are overly slick and hardly up to Peebles' talents. While the earlier set in this series is stronger overall, The Complete Ann Peebles on Hi Records, Vol. 2: 1974-1981 is still fine listening and shows that Peebles was a top talent no matter what her surroundings.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:57
2 2:52
3 4:58
4 3:05
5 2:59
6 3:08
7 4:39
8 3:07
9 2:43
10 2:31
11 2:31
12 2:37
13 3:10
14 2:51
15 4:06
16 2:34
17 2:48
18 3:06
19 4:42
20 3:01
21 3:02
22 2:55
blue highlight denotes track pick