Candye Kane - Superhero
15 songs; Time 55:19 minutes; Splendid
Style: Rock and Roll; R&B; Blues
Randy Chortkoff at Delta Groove Music knows an entertaining mix of music, sex, and pop-culture (Wonder Woman superhero variety this album) can be a winning combination. He also knows a real singer with clarity and power when he hears one. After eight earlier CDs on labels such as Antone’s, Sire, Rounder, and Ruf, Los Angeles native Candye Kane has delivered her first for Delta Groove.
She thanks Chortkoff in the liner notes for “trusting and believing” in her. She always knew she had talent, but she was rejected and written off early on by record executives as “absurd and meaningless,” she has honestly revealed. Ain’t that the Blues!
Kane did have a rough start as she became a gang banger at fifteen, and a mother at seventeen. With a face and plus-size body as beautiful as her voice, she earned her first real money posing for trashy magazines. Her first recordings followed in the soulful footsteps of Bessie Smith and Etta James, and they gained her some notoriety for her bawdy originals. Slowly but surely, Kane established herself as a legitimate artist.
In early 2008 she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. With her hard developed strength, she met the situation with “positive thinking and habitual optimism,” and when she attended the 2009 Blues Music Awards in Memphis this May, she was cancer free. Losing seventy-five pounds in the process and surviving the threat to her life gave her inspiration for this album and three particular songs.
The CD features hot guitarist Laura Chavez laying down attention worthy solos with bassist Paul Loranger and Kane's son Evan Caleb on drums deftly handling the rhythm. Beyond that power trio, six guests make brief appearances.
"Superhero"--"I've always been a fighter when bad times come around. I ain't gonna take it laying down!" This is the anthem that Wonder Woman would have had if she indeed wore a pink headband and pink fishnet stockings, as this CD's cover displays! It's sassy, sultry, loud and lusty, with splashes of saxophone (Jonny Viau) and baritone guitar (Dave Gonzalez). And, you’ll take two steps backward when Candye delivers an ultimatum: "If you can't help me, get out of my way!" What's this superhero's secret weapon? "My big heart!"
"I Put a Hex on You"--The first song on the album that will truly stick in your head. It mentions a famous practitioner, now deceased, of the Voodoo tradition down in New Orleans: "Marie Laveau's my home girl--I put a hex on you!" Cheating lovers beware, or you might find "a needle in a doll that looks like you alone!" If Chavez’s guitar doesn't want to make you get up and tango, absolutely nothing will!
"I'm a Bad, Bad Girl"--A traditional blues number, this is one where Candye tries to show her true colors, but they end up somehow muted. This cover of Gladyces De Jesus does highlight her voice for sure, but it sounds shrill instead of sexy this time.
"Ik Hou Van Je (I Love You)"--Here's an original that’s a peppy love ballad with spot-on renditions of the famous phrase in several different languages! Its ragtime beat, and Candye's sparkly vocals, make this the most underrated and understated hit of the whole CD. The theme here? "The words are universal. And one thing is true. In every corner of the world, we all say, "I love you!" "Ik hou van je; ich liebe dich--it means I love you true!" Whatever language you speak, you'll love this ditty!
"Who's Been Sleeping in my Bed?" was written by Jack Tempchin, author of "Peaceful Easy Feeling," made famous by The Eagles and a favorite writer of Kane's. Remember the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears?” A different type of creature has been sleeping in Candye's bed: "You smell just like perfume and whiskey, so there ain't no way that you can lie..." As Kane pieces together the clues--"sheets all over the floor, the curtains closed in the middle of the day, the lights are turned way down low...," Chavez’s guitar licks are absolutely savage. She doesn't sound like the forgiving type in this song: "you and your brand-new lover are going to be together again..." at the hospital! The "mama bear" will certainly go on the attack!
"Don't Cry for Me, New Jersey" The best line in this song is "your rejection sandwich is one that I can't eat!" The best part of this quirky number is the lyrics, so listen closely and you'll get some chuckles!
"You Need Love" is the Willie Dixon classic which became "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin. Good vocals, good guitar, but not especially memorable.
"I Like 'em Stacked Like That"--Want to know the difference between men and women? Just listen to this vocal duet! On male vocals, guest and harmonica great Mitch Kashmar likes 'em "stacked like that," but Candye prefers "tall and lean, smart and wise. If you're a bookish guy, I'll try you on for size. I like 'em smart and wise!" The fundamental truth is that everyone has a "special type, and no one else will do." Good for laughs and good for dancing, too, as Kid Ramos adds guitar licks!
"Till You Go Too Far"--This is, flat out, the best cover (again, Tempchin) on the whole CD. The guitars entice (Chavez and again, Ramos guesting), Candye's vocals add spices, and the lyrics? They're strictly PG-13, mentioning illegal recreational drugs and a place and time where "all of the love was free!" Blues lovers rejoice: this number has enough traditional elements to keep purists happy, with enough variety and brown-sugar sultriness from Candye to keep things interesting. A bona-fide winner!
"You Can't Stop Me from Loving You" Candye wants to leave her memories somewhere else--"rinse it down the drain, leave it on the bus, hide it in my pocket, tear it up in a thousand pieces and throw it off a pier!" The best part is the Rock and Roll guitar solo in the middle. If it doesn't get you grooving, you're dead!
"Throw it in the Trash Can Love"--This is absolutely the funniest song on the album. Candye thinks she's found the love of her life, but in all actuality, it was "a skid row, hobo, double-saver coupon love--made in China and doomed to fail!" This is the perfect post-breakup song. It's wacky, wild, and absolutely wonderful when you're thinking about a relationship you'd like to "throw in the trash can"!
"I'm Gonna Be Just Fine"--Unfortunately, the vibes I got from this a cappella ballad were weird, creepy, and off-putting. Maybe if she'd added some soft guitar, this ballad about growing older and having "grandbabies on my knee. I love them, and they love me!" would have been gorgeous.
This is a great album, but her 2005 “White Trash Girl” had more heavy hitters.
NOTE: Review by James “Skyy Dobro” Walker with guest song critiques by Skyy’s daughter, Amy, age 29
Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is
a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly
radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from
4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL