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Shemekia Copeland - Deluxe Edition

Alligator Records

16 songs; 66:57 minutes

Styles: Blues; Soul; R&B; Blues-Rock

Alligator Records knows the sound of terrific blues. It also knows how to winnow and select “the cream of the crop”-- the best songs from its various artists! Thus, Alligator’s owner, Bruce Iglauer, periodically releases “Deluxe Editions”: collections of their stars’ greatest hits. One may ask, “If I’ve already purchased and perused all of a musician’s previous albums, why would I need to buy one with no previously unissued tracks?” The answer is akin to savoring one’s favorite meal or beverage--all the right notes of flavor are hit, with no weird aftertaste! Alligator’s list of luscious “Deluxe Editions” provides just that.

That said, let me introduce (or reintroduce) you to one of the most powerful female mavens: 31 year old Shemekia Copeland, pronounced with a silent “I” in her first name and the soul of blues within her frame! Her warm, dulcet-toned voice resonates throughout the room when you play one of her albums, and with the “Deluxe Edition,” it is especially true. In fact, you’ll be tempted to turn it up loud and sing along proud(ly)! It contains sixteen of her finest works, with nary a flop or half-step among them. And, Iglauer always made sure she was supported in the studio by first class musicians and producers.

The album starts out strong and steamy with “Turn the Heat Up” (the title track from her first CD, released in 1998) and never cools down from there. Shemekia warms our hearts and ears with stellar songs such as “It’s 2 A.M.”, “Wild, Wild Woman”, “Livin’ on Love”, “Better Not Touch” and the real show-stopper “Who Stole My Radio?” Her voice has grown deeper and stronger throughout the years as heard across this collection. True vocal highlights are on poignant, slower ballads like “Ghetto Child”. Copeland’s chief strength, besides her vibrant vocals, is her inventive song interpreting. For example, getting deep inside the lyric in “Turn the Heat Up”, she laments, “When I first set my eyes on you, I thought you were my hero. But now, your kisses--they are tastin’ something like 14 degrees below zero!” Verbal treats such as this are sprinkled liberally throughout her “Deluxe Edition”. Here’s hoping you’ll catch them all!

What makes Shemekia Copeland different from other female singers, and even from other blues artists? For one, she relishes innovative, witty lyrics. Secondly, across her 15 year career, her voice and personality have shown no bounds. On every track, you can tell she truly LOVES the blues and doesn’t just sing them in order to earn a paycheck. Don’t believe me? Check out “Beat Up Guitar” and stand corrected! It’s the best traditional blues song on the album, reminiscent of “Crossroads” with its mournful acoustic flair.

Unfamiliar with Copeland? There is no finer introduction than this Deluxe Edition. Even if you own all four CDs from which these songs are taken, here are the hits in a nice package including a fold-out poster and never before seen photos. Deluxe indeed!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 31 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of the 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s Blues music collection.

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