Sheba Potts-Wright (21st Century)
Daddy B. Nice's #31 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"Slow Roll It"
Sheba Potts-Wright (21st Century)
Composed by Charles Jones
February 7, 2014: Re-Posted from Daddy B. Nice's NEW CD REVIEWS
February 21, 2015:
SHEBA POTTS-WRIGHT: I Came To Get Down (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.
Sheba Potts-Wright made a huge splash in 2001 and 2002 with her naughty novelty hits "Lipstick On His Pants" and "I Can Bagg It Up" and her sumptuous cover of the Love Doctor's "Slow Roll It," (written by Sir Charles Jones), a song that helped to define 21st-century southern soul.
On "Slow Roll It" Sheba had none of the chops of the seasoned R&B/Blues singer she was to become over the next dozen years. What she had was the flirty, half-innocent precociousness of the young, and it's interesting to note, if you listen closely to "Slow Roll It," that Sheba lets out a girlish giggle identical to the one young Krishunda Echols emits a decade later in her "Mad Dog 20-20" on the current charts. Young feminine sounds such as these are devastatingly mesmerizing to a man.
The J-Wonn of her day, Sheba not only earned but was virtually handed the tiara of upcoming young southern soul princess, successor to older-generation stars like Peggy Scott-Adams, Shirley Brown & Denise LaSalle. Long before Mel Waiters sang about a woman who "controls her own destiny" in "No Curfew," however, Sheba balked at throwing all her chips into the fickle music business, pragmatically maintaining an administrative career in private life and relegating her public musical career to a kind of arm's-length parallel track.
That has been southern soul's loss. While fellow Ecko label-mates Donnie Ray and O.B. Buchana published CD's annually, Sheba released on average only a CD every three years. Nor has Sheba toured much, although she has gigged (mostly in the Memphis area) occasionally. Throw in flirtations with other musical genres--primarily straight blues, in deference to her bluesman father, Dr. "Feelgood" Potts--and Potts-Wright's southern soul status has dimmed considerably since those early, heady years at the dawn of the century.
The appearance of the Best Of Sheba Potts-Wright CD in 2010 was a reminder of just how good Sheba had been, and also a wake-up call on her singles of note from the ensuing years, most notably the hard-core-bluesy, double-entendre delight, "Private Fishing Hole." Happily, Sheba's new CD I Came To Get Down rewards the expectations of fans whose appetites were whetted by that greatest hits album. Sheba strives for the "pop" sound that has eluded her in recent efforts--the sound that made "Slow Roll It" so memorable--and there is a fine stretch of three songs that is as enjoyable to listen to as anything Sheba has ever done:
The first, "We Got The Right Stuff," has lyrics right out of the O.B. Buchana canon--
"You call me dirty names,
And that I'm no good,
But before the fire goes out,
You're laying on more wood."
--but it's the mid-tempo melody and the textbook-authentic vocal that lingers.
"Big Boy Stuff," a put-down of an inadequate and immature suitor, is even better, and Potts-Wright fans can forgive themselves if, in the middle of the tune, they find themselves thinking they're listening to SHEBA (Potts-Wright's powerful debut).
"Stay With Your Wife" was released as the first single last year, and it too displays Potts-Wright's charismatic qualities: earthiness and sexual allure leavened with tenderness and wisdom.
"Baby, you got too much riding on this,
So I got to tell you the truth.
Sugar, you may be in love with me,
But I'm not in love with you.
...You need to stay with your wife.
That's where you should be.
Don't break up your home.
Don't do it for me."
Both "Stay With Your Wife" and "Big Boy Stuff" were composed by Henderson Thigpen and John Ward--two of the finest tunes yet by Ward's most recent acquisition (Thigpen) to Ecko's songwriting stable.
Only slightly less notable are the tracks "Where's The Party At," "I Want Yo' Man" and "Old School Lovin'."
A special treat is "I've Done All I Can Do (Remix)," a remake of Al Wilson's 70's heart-stopper, "Show And Tell." Sheba first did the number on LET YOUR MIND GO BACK (her last CD, in 2011), but this time she makes the source explicit, singing the lyrics to "Show And Tell" to introduce the track.
Other than the well-intentioned failure, "Happy Tears," the only thing on Sheba Potts-Wright's new album that left your Daddy B. Nice scratching his head was the obvious prominence given to the quasi-title tune, "I Didn't Come To Sit Down," a dubious hook at best done in two equally-baffling versions, one beginning and the other ending this otherwise admirable set.
--Daddy B. Nice
Listen to the official video of Sheba Potts-Wright singing "Stay With Your Wife" live onstage on YouTube.
Sample/Buy Sheba Potts-Wright's I CAME TO GET DOWN CD at Amazon.
See Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Sheba Potts-Wright.
February 23, 2014:
See Daddy B. Nice's 4-star "Distinguished Effort" Review of Sheba Potts-Wright's new I CAME TO GET DOWN CD.
February 1, 2015: "Memphis Stars" Featured Artist
NEW ALBUM ALERT
Sample/Buy Sheba Potts-Wright's new I CAME TO GET DOWN CD at Amazon.
Listen to Sheba Potts-Wright singing "I Didn't Come To Sit Down," the title track of her new CD, on YouTube.
December 14, 2014:
Watch the new live video of Sheba Potts-Wright singing "Stay With Your Wife" onstage on YouTube.
Watch for her upcoming CD to be released at the end of December.
Note: Sheba Potts-Wright also appears on Daddy B. Nice's original Top 100 Southern Soul Artists (90's-00's). The "21st Century" after Sheba Potts-Wright's name in the headline is to distinguish her artist-guide entries on this page from her artist-guide page on Daddy B. Nice's original chart.
Scroll down this column to "Tidbits" for more recent updates on Sheba Potts-Wright, including Daddy B. Nice's 5-star ("Southern Soul Heaven") review of her BEST OF SHEBA POTTS-WRIGHT CD.
Daddy B. Nice's Original Critique:
Few performers have contributed more to contemporary Southern Soul music than Sheba Potts-Wright. At the dawning of the 21st century, when Peggy Scott-Adams was the "undisputed queen," as one of her late-90's albums accurately proclaims, and the other R&B divas of Scott's generation--Shirley Brown, Denise LaSalle, Barbara Carr, Dorothy Moore, Millie Jackson, Betty Wright--were relatively subdued and even searching for new artistic directions, Sheba Potts-Wright arrived on the scene as the first and foremost talent of a younger generation of women (Jackie Neal, LaKeisha, Vickie Baker, An-Jay) intent on bringing Southern Soul into the future.
Her self-titled debut album Sheba (Ecko, 2001), with her signature singles "Slow Roll It" and "Lipstick On His Pants," had the slickness and immediacy of powerful, early one-time singles like "Monkey Talk" by Stephanie McDee and "Lately" by the female trio Divine.
But Sheba also had a depth and scope unrivaled at the time. Almost every song on the CD arrived radio-ready, melodically-rich and lyrically-accessible, and to this day the themes and topics of Sheba are the ongoing issues and fodder of new Southern Soul songs.
Sheba's popularity was founded on her rare combination of ingenue-like sweetness and seasoned toughness. The toughness and roughness--the qualities that made Scott-Adams such a legend--co-existed in Sheba with a sweet-young-thing, come-hither flirtatiousness (skillfully incorporated into her vocal technique) that was out of the question for most of the older divas of traditional R&B.
Thus, "Slow Roll It" and "Lipstick On His Pants" appealed to fans not only for their lusty sensuality (in the great tradition of Scott-Adams, Brown, LaSalle and Carr) but the heightened hormonal state of the much younger female's voice. Sheba Potts-Wright's Sheba instantly brought a younger audience for Southern Soul to the fore.
Listen to Sheba Potts-Wright singing "Slow Roll It" on YouTube.
Listen to Sheba Potts-Wright singing "Lipstick On His Pants" on YouTube.
It was this potent blend of youthful innocence and steaming sexuality that Jackie Neal would ultimately exploit best on her landmark album, Down In Da Club, released before her untimely death five years later. Between them, Jackie and Sheba mapped out the territory for the dozens of young female Southern Soul singer/songwriters to come.
"Slow Roll It" was the centerpiece. Sheba's version of the Sir Charles Jones-written song recorded by The Love Doctor solidified the song's reputation as Southern Soul's new direction, and Sheba's version became just as popular as The Love Doctor's.
"Lipstick On His Pants," which Sheba has admitted in later interviews was as successful--if not more--than "Slow Roll It," was the novelty song of the era, the precursor of later hits such as Mr. Jody's "Your Dog Is Killing My Cat" and the late Judi Brown Eyes' "Sam."
Both songs plied the leisurely style of Ronnie Lovejoy's "Sho' Wasn't Me," solidifying more or less permanently the heart and soul of Southern Soul's mid-tempo appeal.
Encouraged almost immediately upon her success to adhere to the bluesier traditions of her hometown of Memphis, Sheba Potts-Wright has never put out another album of such acutely-honed, radio-friendly material. And while Sheba has recorded five more albums to date and a "Best Of" collection including such career-defining singles as "Private Fishing Hole" and "I Can Bagg It Up," she has never been able to surpass the pop luminosity of "Slow Roll It," "Lipstick On His Pants" and "I Caught You" from her stunning debut.
To read Daddy B. Nice's 5-star (Southern Soul Heaven) CD Review of THE BEST OF SHEBA POTTS-WRIGHT, scroll down this page to Tidbits #2.
To read Daddy B. Nice's Four-Star (Distinguished Effort) CD Review of Sheba Potts-Wright's LET YOUR MIND GO BACK (Ecko, 2011), go to Daddy B. Nice's Original Artist Guide to Sheba Potts-Wright and scroll down to the TIDBITS section.
Listen to Sheba Potts-Wright on iTunes.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Sheba Potts-Wright (21st Century)
From an early age, growing up in such blues hubs as Chicago, Detroit, and Greenwood, Mississippi, Sheba Potts-Wright displayed the talents of a musical prodigy. A budding singer and multi-instrumentalist by the time she entered college, she had already toured the South with her high school band, opening for various R&B acts.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"It ain't what you got,
SHEBA POTTS-WRIGHT: The Best Of Sheba Potts-Wright (Ecko) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.
In a male-dominated business where a woman has to fend twice as hard as a man to make a career of any duration--one CD after another, year after year--who has accomplished as much?
The onetime young diva who made such a chitlin' circuit sensation with "Slow Roll It" and "Lipstick On His Pants" is now a mature woman with a string of CD's spanning a decade, and The Best of Sheba-Potts Wright instantly becomes the definitive Sheba Potts-Wright album.
The compilation borrows most heavily (and tellingly) from Potts-Wright's debut disc, Sheba ("Slow Roll It," "Lipstick On His Pants," "Love Fest," "I Caught You") and proceeds to gather in just about every single and CD-headliner (with the exception of "I'm A Bluesman's Daughter") since.
There are fourteen tracks, at least a dozen of them worthy choices, in this generous CD. "Slow Roll It" starts things off and immediately takes one back to 2000-2001 and young Sir Charles Jones and The Love Doctor. Sheba's was always the most polished (not necessarily the best) of the many versions, and the commercial feel of Sheba's "Slow Roll It" is a revelation.
"I Need A Cowboy To Ride My Pony" (her best album photo, backing it up in red leather) is followed by one of Sheba's all-time rockers, "I Can Bagg It Up," a cover of the Nathaniel Kimble tune of the same name. "I Can Bagg It Up" is from Sheba's second album, when she was still doing the commercial-sounding covers of which "Slow Roll It" was the finest example--a formula she drifted away from in recent years.
"I Can Bagg It Up" sounds if anything better than it did back in the day. You find yourself humming along, tapping your foot and thinking, "They don't sing them like this any more."
Next up is one of the anthems of Southern Soul music, "Lipstick On His Pants," another one of those perfectly-produced classics from Sheba's early period and her first big "original" song (written by John Cummings and Morris J. Williams). This highly entertaining and popular single made Sheba's name as a purveyor of lascivious lyrics.
But the sexual innuendo to end all sexual innuendo is consumated in the next track, the under-rated, witty and hilarious bar blues, "Private Fishing Hole," originally a response to Bobby Rush's popular "Night Fishin'," with lines such as:
"I've got a private fishing hole
On a private piece of land.
I'm going to open it up
To the right good fisherman."
And. . .
"You see, I don't let just anyone
Fish in my hole.
You've got to have a real good pole."
And. . .
"My fishing hole ain't been fished
In a real long while.
And if you're really good,
I'll take my "No Fishing" sign down."
"Big Hand Man," a typically-hedonistic, mid-tempo rocker with a super-confident vocal by Sheba, boasts a great arrangement. According to the theory posited by Sheba, the size of the hands corrresponds to the size of "what's in the pants." Big feet are good, too. This is great stuff--musical and great fun--old wive's tales updated for contemporary Southern Soul folklore.
"Private Fishing Hole" and "Big Hand Man" represent the bluesy drift in Sheba's more recent recordings. Her father, of course, is the Memphis bluesman Dr. Robert "Feelgood" Potts.
"Cruise Control" jumps back to the early years--another take on the "Slow Roll It" melody--as does "Love Fest." Then Sheba moves into one of her finest mid-period hits, "I Can Hear Your Macaroni," which sounds even better in retrospect.
"Macaroni" doesn't have the polished sound of the early hits. It's more down-to-earth, but there's no doubt it rocks, illustrating Sheba's uncanny ability to make music that sounds casual and easy-going.
"Leave Me Alone" is a rare, straight-ahead ballad, very much like "I Caught You," and both are from the debut album. "I Caught You" has always been one of Sheba's most poignant songs. And yet, Sheba grabs hold of the subject--betrayal--and meets it with that unerring, unflinching confidence that makes even the hurt seem inconsequential.
"She May Be The One You Want" and "You Were Wrong" are journeyman tracks that close out the collection by bringing you back down to earth.
You'll have to look hard and long to find a better, more consistently-rocking, Southern Soul record than Sheba Potts'-Wright's Best Of CD
The finest examples of the bluesy years--hits like "Big Hand Man," "Private Fishing Hole," and "I Can Hear Your Macaroni"--are indispensable, but it's the clear-eyed, brilliant accessibility of Sheba's early work that still resounds the most.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced The Best of Sheba-Potts Wright CD
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you liked The Pointer Sisters' "Slow Hand," you'll love Sheba Potts-Wright's "Slow Roll It."
Honorary "B" Side
"Lipstick On His Pants"
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