Val McKnight (New 4-Star CD Review!)

Daddy B. Nice's #117 ranked Southern Soul Artist



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"It's Party Time"

Val McKnight (New 4-Star CD Review!)



June 23, 2019: Originally posted in Daddy B. Nice's New CD Reviews

February 10, 2019:

VAL MCKNIGHT: Stroke That Cat (Ecko). Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Val McKnight has quickly become a force among female southern soul singers--not quite in the first rank occupied by the likes of Ms. Jody, Nellie “Tiger” Travis, and Karen Wolfe--but close. However, you would never know it if you were in a hurry, listened to the first couple of tracks of Val's new album, Stroke That Cat, and swiftly moved on, as we all do, reluctant to engage further. The set opens with a tepid--I almost said "typical"--John Ward/Raymond Moore opening track, but it's written by Val herself. "Turn Up" is guaranteed NOT to raise your pulse, and the next song up, the title cut "Stroke That Cat," which IS written by Ward and Moore, isn't much stronger. Both tunes sport musical phrases you've heard way too many times before, and the prosaic material seeps into uninspired McKnight vocals that don't give a hint of the excitement to come.

Because, paradoxically, and with more than a little help from her friends (Ward, Moore, Henderson Thigpen, Ms. Jody), the performer absolutely "tears it up" the rest of the way. In her third long-play release (and second on Ecko), Vivacious Val grand-slams just about every bawdy theme ever explored by Memphis's latter-day flagship label. With tunes like "I'm A Horny Woman" (first published on Ecko's Blues Mix, Vol. 17: Dirty Soul Blues) and "I'm Gonna Hump Your Brains Out" (also available as an X-rated single called "I'm Gonna Fuck Your Brains Out,"), the intrepid McKnight far surpasses the flirtatious naughtiness of label-mates Sheba Potts-Wright and Ms. Jody.

"It's Booty Shakin' Time" recycles the irresistible instrumental track from Ms. Jody's "Ms. Jody's Thang", while "Down Low Brother" harks back to the man-turns-out-to-be-gay themes explored by Peggy Scott-Adams and Keisha Brown in the nineties. "Down Low Brother" hit #1 on Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles chart with the following "bullet" summary:

*****************
-------JANUARY 2019-------

1. “Down Low Brother”------Val McKnight

Vivacious Val delivers a vocal so unique and unprecedented it eclipses the original recorded by the gritty Barbara Carr, whose X-rated catalog makes today’s divas look like choir girls. The tale of a woman discovering her husband with another man was one of a wave of "he-turned-out-be-gay" tunes recorded in the wake of the resounding success of Peggy Scott-Adams' "Bill". From Val's new Stroke That Cat album.

Listen to Val McKnight singing “Down Low Brother” on YouTube.
********************


That notorious Barbara Carr catalog, by the way, was and still remains on Ecko.

The remix with Ms. Jody of "It's Party Time," originally recorded for Val's Independent Woman, has all but become a southern soul classic. The interaction between Ms. Jody and McKnight is one of the under-rated collaborations of the last couple of years. They sound like sisters who've grown up together, and when Val growls, it's like a big cat purring. The synthesized background chorus works to perfection, and from a production standpoint here and throughout, John Ward plays to Ecko's strengths, using only the most tried-and-true formulas and giving the people what they want (for example the formerly-Ms. Jody vehicle "It's Booty Shaking Time"). The pace never flags.

"Can You Ride This Pony," a funky-edged dance jam, is almost on the level of "Party Time" and "Down Low Brother," while "Hoodoo Woman Pt. 2" reprises a top track from McKnight's debut, Red Hot Lover.

Finally, in the midst of all this furious, come-"atcha" lust and inflamed libidos--the very stuff of Val's persona--we're treated to two mellow cuts, "My Boo Thang," with a nice, high-pitched,"Summer Madness"-like synthesizer fill, and a quirky but catchy background chorus (something that Ecko has been getting better and better at), and a solid, even righteous ballad, "Good Loving Will Make Everything All Right".

In "Boo Thang" Val says, "We fit together like a hand and glove," and for maybe the first time in her recording career we see Val not only as an "independent woman" but a wife and/or partner--a "co-dependent". And in that sense, Stroke That Cat as an album expands Val's image: ergo, she's not just a purveyor of gross-out jams; she can summon different vocal tones for slower tempos and domesticity.

And that's the thing about Val. Even when she's singing about "humping" or "fucking," it comes off surprisingly innocent--not so much vulgar as earthy and natural. Val's so comfortable in her "own skin" that when she says, "Friendship means nothing to a horny woman," (from "I'm A Horny Woman") we take it not as an affront but a candid capsule of the facts. And in an age when women who want to make it in southern soul shy away from using their real names, Val McKnight not only has the courage to record indelicate material but, like Peggy Scott-Adams and so many others before her, to use her given name. Almost by default Val has become a light-house, a Statue of Liberty-like presence in a dimly-lit and risque corner of southern soul's universe formerly inhabited by fearlessly outspoken singers like Millie Jackson, Jackie Neal and Big Cynthia.

--Daddy B. Nice

Buy Val McKnight's "Stroke That Cat" album at Amazon.

Buy Val McKnight's "Stroke That Cat" album at iTunes.

**************

SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

February 10, 2019:

VAL MCKNIGHT: Stroke That Cat (Ecko). Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Val McKnight has quickly become a force among female southern soul singers--not quite in the first rank occupied by the likes of Ms. Jody, Nellie “Tiger” Travis, and Karen Wolfe--but close. However, you would never know it if you were in a hurry, listened to the first couple of tracks of Val's new album, Stroke That Cat, and swiftly moved on, as we all do, reluctant to engage further. The set opens with a tepid--I almost said "typical"--John Ward/Raymond Moore opening track, but it's written by Val herself. "Turn Up" is guaranteed NOT to raise your pulse, and the next song up, the title cut "Stroke That Cat," which IS written by Ward and Moore, isn't much stronger. Both tunes sport musical phrases you've heard way too many times before, and the prosaic material seeps into uninspired McKnight vocals that don't give a hint of the excitement to come.

Because, paradoxically, and with more than a little help from her friends (Ward, Moore, Henderson Thigpen, Ms. Jody), the performer absolutely "tears it up" the rest of the way. In her third long-play release (and second on Ecko), Vivacious Val grand-slams just about every bawdy theme ever explored by Memphis's latter-day flagship label. With tunes like "I'm A Horny Woman" (first published on Ecko's Blues Mix, Vol. 17: Dirty Soul Blues) and "I'm Gonna Hump Your Brains Out" (also available as an X-rated single called "I'm Gonna Fuck Your Brains Out,"), the intrepid McKnight far surpasses the flirtatious naughtiness of label-mates Sheba Potts-Wright and Ms. Jody.

"It's Booty Shakin' Time" recycles the irresistible instrumental track from Ms. Jody's "Ms. Jody's Thang", while "Down Low Brother" harks back to the man-turns-out-to-be-gay themes explored by Peggy Scott-Adams and Keisha Brown in the nineties. "Down Low Brother" hit #1 on Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles chart with the following "bullet" summary:

*****************
-------JANUARY 2019-------

1. “Down Low Brother”------Val McKnight

Vivacious Val delivers a vocal so unique and unprecedented it eclipses the original recorded by the gritty Barbara Carr, whose X-rated catalog makes today’s divas look like choir girls. The tale of a woman discovering her husband with another man was one of a wave of "he-turned-out-be-gay" tunes recorded in the wake of the resounding success of Peggy Scott-Adams' "Bill". From Val's new Stroke That Cat album.

Listen to Val McKnight singing “Down Low Brother” on YouTube.
********************


That notorious Barbara Carr catalog, by the way, was and still remains on Ecko.

The remix with Ms. Jody of "It's Party Time," originally recorded for Val's Independent Woman, has all but become a southern soul classic. The interaction between Ms. Jody and McKnight is one of the under-rated collaborations of the last couple of years. They sound like sisters who've grown up together, and when Val growls, it's like a big cat purring. The synthesized background chorus works to perfection, and from a production standpoint here and throughout, John Ward plays to Ecko's strengths, using only the most tried-and-true formulas and giving the people what they want (for example the formerly-Ms. Jody vehicle "It's Booty Shaking Time"). The pace never flags.

"Can You Ride This Pony," a funky-edged dance jam, is almost on the level of "Party Time" and "Down Low Brother," while "Hoodoo Woman Pt. 2" reprises a top track from McKnight's debut, Red Hot Lover.

Finally, in the midst of all this furious, come-"atcha" lust and inflamed libidos--the very stuff of Val's persona--we're treated to two mellow cuts, "My Boo Thang," with a nice, high-pitched,"Summer Madness"-like synthesizer fill, and a quirky but catchy background chorus (something that Ecko has been getting better and better at), and a solid, even righteous ballad, "Good Loving Will Make Everything All Right".

In "Boo Thang" Val says, "We fit together like a hand and glove," and for maybe the first time in her recording career we see Val not only as an "independent woman" but a wife and/or partner--a "co-dependent". And in that sense, Stroke That Cat as an album expands Val's image: ergo, she's not just a purveyor of gross-out jams; she can summon different vocal tones for slower tempos and domesticity.

And that's the thing about Val. Even when she's singing about "humping" or "fucking," it comes off surprisingly innocent--not so much vulgar as earthy and natural. Val's so comfortable in her "own skin" that when she says, "Friendship means nothing to a horny woman," (from "I'm A Horny Woman") we take it not as an affront but a candid capsule of the facts. And in an age when women who want to make it in southern soul shy away from using their real names, Val McKnight not only has the courage to record indelicate material but, like Peggy Scott-Adams and so many others before her, to use her given name. Almost by default Val has become a light-house, a Statue of Liberty-like presence in a dimly-lit and risque corner of southern soul's universe formerly inhabited by fearlessly outspoken singers like Millie Jackson, Jackie Neal and Big Cynthia.

--Daddy B. Nice

Buy Val McKnight's "Stroke That Cat" album at Amazon.

Buy Val McKnight's "Stroke That Cat" album at iTunes.

Read Daddy B. Nice's "Val McKnight" Artist Guide.

**************

January 6, 2019: Excerpted from...

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Preview For. . .

-------JANUARY 2019-------

1. “Down Low Brother”------Val McKnight

Vivacious Val delivers a vocal so unique and unprecedented it eclipses the original recorded by the gritty Barbara Carr, whose X-rated catalog makes today’s divas look like choir girls. The tale of a woman discovering her husband with another man was one of a wave of "he-turned-out-be-gay" tunes recorded in the wake of the resounding success of Peggy Scott-Adams' "Bill". From Val's new Stroke That Cat album.

Listen to Val McKnight singing “Down Low Brother” on YouTube.

*************


December 16, 2018:

New Album Alert!


Buy Val McKnight's new STROKE THE CAT album at Amazon.

STROKE THE CAT TRACK LIST:



1
Turn Up

2
Stroke That Cat

3
Down Low Brother

4
It's Party Time

5
Can You Ride This Pony

6
It's Booty Shakin' Time

7
I'm a Horny Woman

8
I'm Gonna Hump Your Brains Out

9
That's My Boo Thang

10
Hoodoo Woman, Pt. 2

11
Good Lovin' Will Make Everything Alright

Daddy B. Nice notes:

Vivacious Val hits just about every bawdy theme ever explored by Memphis' Ecko Records in her third long-play release (and second on Ecko). With tunes like "I'm A Horny Woman" and "I'm Gonna Hump Your Brains Out," the intrepid McKnight far surpasses the flirtatious naughtiness of label-mates Sheba Potts-Wright and Ms. Jody for a new standard of hard-core licentiousness not seen since the heyday of Ecko's Barbara Carr a decade and more ago.

"It's Booty Shakin' Time" recycles the irresistable instrumental track from Ms. Jody's "Ms. Jody's Thang", while "Down Low Brother" harks back to the man-turns-out-to-be-gay themes cultivated by Peggy Scott-Adams and Keisha Brown a couple of decades ago.

Listen to Val McKnight singing "Down Low Brother" on YouTube.

Listen to Val McKnight singing "I'm A Horny Woman" on YouTube.

Listen to Val McKnight singing "It's Booty Shakin' Time" on YouTube.

Buy Val McKnight's STROKE THE CAT album at iTunes.

Buy Val McKnight's STROKE THE CAT album at Target.

Browse through all of Val McKnight's albums in Daddy B. Nice's Lowest-Priced Southern Soul CD Store.

SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

April 8, 2016: Re-Posted from Daddy B. Nice's New CD Reviews:

November 7, 2015:

VAL MCKNIGHT: Independent Woman (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Listen to Val McKnight singing "It's Party Time" while you read.

Val McKnight comes from tough stock: Oprah Winfrey-in-"Beloved" tough. She personifies a distinct kind of woman--the gal who has to play "second fiddle" to the pretty girl, the gal who has to be "brash" to get attention, the gal who when she gets lucky enough to score a relationship soon has to endure the humiliation of break-up--and the tunes that impress and resonate the most from her new CD Independent Woman are the ones that plumb that human condition, Vivacious-Val style.

Thus, "Head Bitch In Charge" represents the "brash," the destroyer of all female rivals.

"Make Me Shout Ooh, Ooh, Ooh!" signifies the peak of love, the elusive "good-loving" relationship. But the wheel of love soon turns...

"I'll Be Seeing You Around" is all about dealing with rejection.

"You say want to break up with me?
Well, if you gotta do it, go ahead."

...And "Move Your Body" explores the regret and pleading for a reunion with the special poignancy of a humbled lover.

"I was in the club the other night,
And I saw my ex-lover,
And then he came over
And asked me for a dance,
And as I took him by the hand,
He whispered in my ear,
'Val, I really missed you,'
And as we began to dance
To the slow jam,
I began to get that
Same, old, good feeling again."

Three of those songs were written by Val McKnight (the fourth, "Head Bitch In Charge," was composed by Raymond Moore and John Ward), but lest you think Vivacious Val the performer sprang fully-formed from real life, don't underestimate the difficulty of forging a southern soul singing style. Many are the women who have tried it; many are the women who have failed.

A southern soul singer has to forego the histrionic, the melismatic, the slick, the delicate, the smooth. If mainstream urban r&b is 500-count silky cotton, southern soul is old gunny sack burlap, and few female singers (Ms. Jody, Karen Wolfe, Nellie "Tiger" Travis, Lacee) have developed the perfect sound to capture fans. Red Hot Lover, McKnight's first album, was a first stab at joining the "ranks."

Her (Val's) long notes slide flat, and her tone has all the subtlety of a screeching alley cat cornered by a pack of dogs....as she drops one authentically memorable track after another.

...your Daddy B. Nice wrote in his review. Three of the "keepers" from that album are repeated here: "Juke Joint Party," "Move Your Body" and Val's signature club jam, "Who Doo Woman."

INDEPENDENT WOMAN, however, takes the somewhat one-dimensional, bluesy sound of RED HOT LOVER epitomized by "Who Doo Woman" to a richer, fuller, more well-rounded, southern soul sound. Two songs in particular (both composed--by the way--by the prolific Ms. McKnight) take the music to another level.

"Independent Woman" (the single) is an impressive summation of all of the themes touched upon here and an admirably forthright statement of identity.

And "It's Party Time" is simply the best song of McKnight's career--comfortable, swinging, authentic and memorable. Doze off and you might re-awake thinking you're listening to Billy Ray Charles singing "I've Been Partying All Night," and baby, that's authentic.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Val McKnight's INDEPENDENT WOMAN CD at Soul Blues Music.

See Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Val McKnight.

SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

Product, comments, information or questions for Daddy B. Nice?

Write to

daddybnice@southernsoulrnb.com

************

September 5, 2015: NEW ALBUM ALERT!

Sample/Buy Val McKnight's new INDEPENDENT WOMAN CD at Blues Critic.

See Daddy B. Nice's "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles for September 2015: #8 "It's Party Time" by Val McKnight

Listen to Val McKnight singing "It's Party Time" on redmp3.

SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

*********************

To automatically link to Val McKnight's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and other references on the website, go to "McKnight, Val" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.

***********************

--Daddy B. Nice


About Val McKnight (New 4-Star CD Review!)

April 1, 2014:

Sample/Buy Vivacious Val McKnight's Red Hot Lover CD.

Almost stubbornly unstudied, as if her audiences wouldn't put up with the pretension, Val McKnight hasn't the slightest interest in melisma or coloration on the opening (and title cut) of her debut CD, "Red Hot Lover." Her long notes slide flat, and her tone has all the subtlety of a screeching alley cat cornered by a pack of dogs.

But hold on! In Southern Soul, as in the Bible, the last--by virtue of their righteousness--shall frequently go "first," and in Val McKnight's case that is the conclusion one almost begrudgingly grants the feisty singer as she drops one authentically memorable track after another.

No stranger to Daddy B. Nice's Concert Calendar, Val McKnight has been an entertainer in the Jackson, Mississippi area (including Vicksburg) for years, and, as Vick Allen recently said in an interview with DJ Cadillac Zack (WMPR) regarding success in the Southern Soul world: "If you can make it in Jackson, you can make it anywhere."

Listen to Valerie McKnight singing "Hoo Doo Woman" Live Onstage at the E&E in Jackson, Mississippi on YouTube.

Seasoned in the ways of juke-joint southern soul, McKnight's first charting single, southern soul-certified, was "You Bring Out The Freak In Me" way back in 2009, so this album has been a long time coming.

McKnight is equally adept at hole-in-the-wall blues ("Hoodoo Woman," "Juke Joint Party," "Blues Is A Serious Thing") and southern soul ("Two Is Company," "Jody Got The Job Done," "Red Hot Lover").

"Two Is Company" was Daddy B. Nice's #4 "Breaking" Southern Soul Single for February '14.

4. "Two Is Company"------Vivacious Val McKnight

Even with a king-sized bed, Val McKnight is in no mood for "3-N-A-Bed" with her husband and best friend. The longtime, dues-paying, Jackson-area diva shines on her new CD, Red Hot Lover. The chorus has an accurate and street-wise, southern-soul feel.


The set includes a couple of respectful covers, Etta James' "Wet Match" (featuring George Jackson) and Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Members Only" (featuring Larry Addison), on which Valerie's vocal sounds almost conventional, proving that her wild-and-touch un-schooled-ness on "Red Hot Lover" and other rowdy numbers is a calculated one.

Val even "stoops" to urban r&b in "Flicker In The Flame" with another corresponding loss of vocal identity. Nothing sounds better than the segue into the first notes of "Jody Got The Job Done" and a return to the Vivacious One's true metier: alley-cat passion.

Harrison Calloway Jr. and Forrest Gordon provide the adept and flexible production, including most of the musical backgrounds, with the inimitable and ubiquitous Stevie J. on guitar.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Vivacious Val McKnight's Red Hot Lover CD.


Tidbits

Listen to Val McKnight singing "Two Is Company" on YouTube.

Listen to Val McKnight in a classic hole-in-the-wall setting--Jackson's E&E Blues Lounge--(introduced by WMPR's Deejay Handyman).


Honorary "B" Side

"Two Is Company"



5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy It's Party Time by Val McKnight (New 4-Star CD Review!)
It's Party Time


CD: Independent Woman
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
Independent Woman


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Two Is Company by Val McKnight (New 4-Star CD Review!)
Two Is Company


CD: Red Hot Lover
Label: Vivacious

Sample or Buy
Red Hot Lover


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Who Doo Woman by Val McKnight (New 4-Star CD Review!)
Who Doo Woman


CD: Red Hot Lover
Label: Vivacious

Sample or Buy
Red Hot Lover


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy (You Bring Out The) Freak In Me by Val McKnight (New 4-Star CD Review!)
(You Bring Out The) Freak In Me


CD: Red Hot Lover
Label: Vivacious

Sample or Buy
Red Hot Lover


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Down Low Brother by Val McKnight (New 4-Star CD Review!)
Down Low Brother


CD: Stroke That Cat
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
Stroke That Cat


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy I'm A Horny Woman by Val McKnight (New 4-Star CD Review!)
I'm A Horny Woman


CD: Stroke That Cat
Label: Ecko

Sample or Buy
Stroke That Cat


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Juke Joint Party by Val McKnight (New 4-Star CD Review!)
Juke Joint Party


CD: Red Hot Lover
Label: Vivacious



3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Move Your Body by Val McKnight (New 4-Star CD Review!)
Move Your Body


CD: Red Hot Lover
Label: Vivacious



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