Friday, November 24, 2006

Without boots came the rapper

What follows are a few random musings surrounding Millie Jackson by way of lead in to two tracks from the lovely lady.

I was originally going to call this post “Millie gets Darcy cooking”, a play on Limmie & Family Cookin’. For no other reason than Limmie and Millie are sort of similar names and they gave us “You Can Do Magic”, and Millie can certainly do magic. But the blog title I’ve settled on is a play on something else that I’ll let you figure out.

Back in September both Got The Fever and Moistworks featured Millie Jackson on blogposts. The featured trilogies in those posts make both those albums essential buys. Coincidentally, the day before the Moistworks post (that featured tracks from “Caught Up”) I had just filled a big hole in my vinyl collection by acquiring both “Caught Up” and “Still Caught Up”. On playing “Caught Up” it felt like being reintroduced to an old friend, it all sounded so familiar I know I must have listened to this album many times back in the day at some friend’s house, though now I can no longer remember who that person was.

I’m sure I remember reading some years ago that Millie was, at the time at least, a favourite of Ken Clarke - the real ale swilling, jazz loving, Hush Puppied MP who was the best party leader the Tory party never had. Excellent taste all round, he certainly would have got my vote.

Millie has given us some fantastic music down the years (quality control is not all it should be in the MJ production department, but when she's good she’s very very good). Her lyrics have often demonstrated a sharp and bawdy sense of humour and it seems this follows on her album covers too – witness the now legendary covers featuring a certain bathroom item of furniture. I’ve also noticed her feet are rather prominent on a number of album covers – another sign methinks of someone that doesn’t take herself too seriously.
As evidence I present for you here detail from the following MJ albums covers: “Feelin’ Bitchy” (back cover), “Free And In Love” (front and back cover), “Caught Up”, and “Get It Out’cha System”, all featuring Millie’s feet in all their naked glory.

Millie was well known for her raps. This was in the seventies mind. You couldn’t say they helped define today’s rap music genre. Millie’s raps are a million miles away from the metronomic malevolent morass that is much of today’s gangsta rap. Millie’s raps aren’t constricted by the never ending pursuit of a rhyme, however banal. Millie’s raps draw from a more classical meaning of the word i.e.Slang: to talk or discuss, esp. freely, openly, or volubly; chat as opposed to the now more accepted sense of the word in musical circles i.e. Slang. to talk rhythmically to the beat of rap music. Millie gets down to the bone.

"All The Way Lover”, from the 1977 album “Feelin’ Bitchy”, is a fine example of rap a la Millie. I used to play this in the slow spot at a club spot in Bath (England) I used to DJ at back in the day. Good memories. Do they still have slow spots in clubs nowadays?

Millie can sing too, a big, powerful, warm, gutsy voice. You could imagine her not needing a microphone on stage.

On “Walking In The Rain”, a single from 1983, she gets seriously soulful but also reveals a tender side to her character. Could Millie's bold and brash exterior all be a front? Well, maybe not, but even the toughest can get hurt by love sometimes.

OK you’ve got me banged to rights guv – yes Millie sets my pulse a racing. The quiet storm starts here….

Millie Jackson – All The Way Lover 1977
Millie Jackson – I Feel Like Walking In The Rain 1983


Anonymous said...

As much as I like Millie's studio Lps, for me the 'must have' LP is the double record set "Live & Uncensored'! This performance gives you a much greater appreciation for her 'rap/storytelling' abilities as she uses them to weave the songs together into what seems like an evening long 'medley'. IMHO the use of these 'raps' on her studio albums are an attempt to mimic her live performances. But, without an audience, they come off a bit dry and don't really do justice to another quality of her 'rap' abilities. Her sense of timing which, in rap as well as comedy, is everything!

Live, she is every bit as sexy, soulful, personable and damn funny as her studio LPs only hint at. The other great thing about this LP/CD is her backing band who, like James Brown's JBs, are in perfect sync with her no matter where she leads them. When she goes of on a 'rap' they never stop holding down the groove and are right there when musical punctuatio is called for. I love this album from the 'Keep The Home Fires Burnin / Logs And Things' medley to the hilarious 'Phuck You Symphony' and even the schmaltzy covers like 'Just When I Needed You Most'.

Never the less, thanks for giving Milie more exposure, she deserves it! Thanks also for the Ohio Players posting. As a former 'Buckeye' (one from the state of Ohio) it's also great to see they still have fans... and so far away too! I enjoyed stumbling into yer little blogatorium, keep up the good work!!!

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