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Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women - Havin’ The Last Word

Alligator Records

16 songs; 58:26; Library Quality

Dear Skyy,
Have you heard – after a 28 year career, Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women are issuing one final album, doing one last tour, and then disbanding to do solo work and projects. Don’t you think that is a shame? I mean, when it comes to blues, they always held a novelty niche – funny, sassy, witty, and bawdy - but always honest and insightful, too. When it came to professionalism as instrumentalists, there was never a question as they always showed top notch, serious musicianship.
Yours truly,
Bud Tugly

Dear Bud,
I well remember my cousin from St. Louis calling excitedly a few years ago to tell me about this great band (Saffire) he had just then discovered. He was totally amused and entertained by songs like “I need a young, young man to chase away my ‘Middle Aged Blues [Boogie],’” “He Really Makes It Hard For Me To Sing The Blues,” “Silver Beaver,” “If Love Hurts (You're Not Doing It Right)” and “Footprints on the Ceiling.”
The idea to disband to pursue solo and other projects can be heard audibly in the final CD as many songs already sound more like a solo with backup rather than that of a “band.” Thanks for writing,

While Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women are “Havin’ the Last Word,” they have left us with a gem of an enjoyable album. A final CD could have been a quickie knockoff, but here are 16 full songs running almost an hour. All the ingredients we have come to expect from them are present from songs about the female body, romance won and lost, cancer survival, feminism, and shameless lust to terrific vocals supported by barrelhouse piano, guitar, mandolin, Dobro, fiddle, upright bass and harmonica. All that is encompassed in blues songs that are sing-along infectious, funny, passionate, rollicking and soulful, and the highest standards are maintained in recording quality, performance, and production.

The CD opens with a true band-approach on the upbeat “Going Down To the River” where each one sings a verse and then join in three part harmony on the chorus. Instrumentally, the song opens with Andra Faye’s mandolin underscored by Ann Rabson on piano and Gaye Adegbalola on rhythm acoustic guitar.

Agree or disagree: “I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.” It’s your choice, but this line is found in “Nothin’ in Your House” which is a perfect example of sass from these strong willed women who have always exuded the idea, “Tain’t nobody’s business what I do!” Try these lyrics sung by Gaye, “...when I get liquored up or drink Jose [tequila], Lord, you never know what I might do or what I might say....”

“His jelly roll is so nice and hot; never fails to hit the spot...his frankfurter is oh so sweet; how I like his sausage meat / I can’t do without my kitchen man.” Yep, there are the smile inducing double entendres we have come to enjoy; these are found in Bessie Smith’s “Kitchen Man” and sung huskily by Ann Rabson.

The most surprising number is Andra Faye’s, “Blue Lullaby.” It’s a beautifully sung, slower tear-jerker of a song reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt’s “Blue Bayou.” Gaye plays harmonica and does a great harp solo in the middle.

Other standouts include “Bald Headed Blues” reflecting a positive approach to surviving cancer,the salacious close-shaver “Bald Eagle,” and humorous numbers “I Can Do Bad All by Myself” and “Too Much Butt” featuring the line, “If my zipper could talk, you know it would scream, ‘too much butt for one pair of jeans.’”

While it is a shame to see them go, at least Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women have left us with a classic disc befitting their notable legacy.

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
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