Nellie "Tiger" Travis (21st Century)
Daddy B. Nice's #17 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"If I Back It Up"
Nellie "Tiger" Travis (21st Century)
Composed by Floyd Hamberlin
January 1, 2017:
Nellie "Tiger" Travis will perform “Slap Yo Weave Off” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Wednesday, January 18th!
Time: 11:30 pm Eastern Standard Time. NBC Studio, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York. 10:30 pm Central Standard Time.
See Daddy B. Nice's Concert Calendar.
Note: Nellie "Tiger" Travis also appears on Daddy B. Nice's original Top 100 Southern Soul Artists (90's-00's). The "21st Century" after Nellie Travis'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.
January 27, 2013:
Daddy B. Nice's Updated Profile:
A website on the Internet now heralds the fact that the horn hook from the Floyd Hamberlin Jr.-written, Nellie Tiger Travis-sung, sex-in-the-club anthem "If I Back It Up" was actually sampled from KC & The Sunshine's Band "Boogie Shoes."
Well, that's true, but it's a stretch. Hamberlin slows it down and draws out the notes, giving them a totally different complexion. Your Daddy B Nice pointed out years ago that the Hamberlin-written, Travis-sung "M.O.D. (Man On Drugs)" appropriated the hook (the bass line) from Bruce Springsteen's "Fire."
In both cases, Hamberlin simply looked to the seemingly inexhaustible history of R&B for his initial inspiration, and we the audience are much the better off for it. Hamberlin begins "If I Back It Up" with the horns--that KC-derived hook--and then he runs it through instrumentally again, backed up with enhanced percussion and lead guitar. The sound is steaming--it's got a mid-song frenzy to it. There's Southern Soul swagger and sass all over that brass section hook. To even compare it to KC & The Sunshine Band's mere fillip is to demean its soulful, ecstatic groove.
"Oh yeahhh," is all Nellie says in a drawling, husky, city-of-big-shoulders voice-over. Finally, third time around, Nellie shows up and takes over the record, and her vocal reeks of power, sexuality, energy, toughness and experience.
Whenever I write about Nellie Tiger Travis, I begin with Floyd Hamberlin, Jr., because--like Peggy Scott-Adams with Jimmy Lewis--it's through this songwriter/producer's material that Nellie achieved greatness.
Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "If I Back It Up" on YouTube while you read.
Has a better female-to-male come-on ever been recorded?
"I've been dancing
In this club
All night long.
You've been sitting over there
Staring at me
Like something's wrong."
"Like something's wrong" is the perfect insight.
"I heard you holler,
'Back it up,'
And you gave me
That sexy smile.
You sure look
Good to me,
And I like your style."
Everything Nellie did pre-Hamberlin with the Chicago blues sound and everything she's done since with Dylann DeAnna, Carl Marshall, Simeo and others has been commendable but well within the ordinary parameters of the blues, distinguished primarily by the tough, clear vocals.
After all, Travis possesses one of the great blues voices and personalities of her generation, and she is (as she hints) in her tribute to Koko Taylor a worthy successor to the diva.
But it's "If I Back It Up" and the other classic, Hamberlin-written tunes--"I'm A Woman," "Man On Drugs," "You Gone Make Me Cheat," "Baby Mama Drama," "I Saw It On Oprah," "Slap Yo Weave Off"--that endears Travis to this and future generations of Southern Soul fans.
Nellie is the late, great Reggie P's female counterpart, vocally speaking. Like Reggie, Nellie hasn't recorded much, but what she has recorded is so deliciously gritty it will lurk near the top of any Southern Soul lover's rotation.
Your Daddy B. Nice heard from Floyd Hamberlin over a year ago with news that a new collaboration between him and Nellie "Tiger" Travis was in the works, but all I've received since then is a Christmas song, two years running now.
And unless Carl Marshall can do for Nellie what he did for Arthur Foy around 2005 with "(I'm Not Ready) Don't Stop My Party," I don't see anything noteworthy on the horizon in that direction.
Although there is an exception. Carl Marshall's passionately-written and produced "I'm With You Baby" is a revelation, and very much in that Arthur Foy tradition (or for that matter, the gritty, earthy tradition of Marshall's own "I Lived It All"). Carl's keyboard, guitar and production are satisfyingly lyrical and sweet, and Nellie once again comes off as a rock-and-rolling Southern Soul star.
Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "I'm With You Baby" on YouTube.
Read more about Nellie "Tiger" Travis in Daddy B. Nice's Original Artist Guide to Nellie Travis.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Nellie "Tiger" Travis (21st Century)
Nellie Travis was born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Although reportedly a "tomboy" growing up (she was also a Homecoming Queen), she didn't pick up the nickname "Tiger" as a youth. That came later, as a result of a decision by Nellie to add something memorable to her performing name in the fashion of artists like Koko Taylor, Big Time Sarah, Big Cynthia and Little Kim Stewart.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"Now you want me
1. January 26, 2013:
Nellie "Tiger" Travis' "Mr. Sexy Man" came in for high praise in the 2013 "Daddies" (7th Annual) Southern Soul Music Awards. The Floyd Hamberlin-written and produced song was the winner of:
Best Club (Uptempo Dance) Song: "Mr. Sexy Man" by Nellie "Tiger Travis
....and the #2-ranking Southern Soul Song of the Year.
February 1, 2014:
Not to be mistaken for your mama's southern soul, 2013 was the year of Nellie "Tiger" Travis's "Mr. Sexy Man," called in many quarters the "number-one song" in America.
Even Medea (aka comedian Tyler Perry), boasted that the song--the result of Travis' reunion with writer/producer Floyd Hamberlin--was her favorite during a guest stint on The Steve Harvey show.
One of the keys to the song's popularity was the line in the chorus, "what-yo-name-is?" (which Medea mimicked perfectly), proving once again that good English grammar ("What is your name?") just doesn't (don't?) make sense in the world of blues.
Like a 100-year flood, "Mr. Sexy Man" crept into media outlets long known for eschewing southern soul music.
(from Daddy B. Nice’s 2013: The Year In Review)
June 1, 2014: New Nellie "Tiger" Travis YouTube video
Watch Nellie "Tiger" Travis singing "Mr. Sexy Man" Live Onstage in Jackson, Mississippi on YouTube.
October 19, 2014
Listen to the new official video of Nellie "Tiger" Travis singing "Mister Sexy Man" on YouTube. This is an incredible "live" video with Nellie and ladies dancing and coming onto the sexy men. You have never seen Nellie like this! Her best ever! DBN
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you liked Tina Turner's version of "Proud Mary," you'll love Nellie "Tiger" Travis's "If I Back It Up."
Honorary "B" Side
"Mr. Sexy Man"
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