Sheba Potts-Wright (Memphis Stars)
Daddy B. Nice's #31 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"Slow Roll It"
Sheba Potts-Wright (Memphis Stars)
Composed by Charles Jones
February 23, 2014:
See Daddy B. Nice's 4-star "Distinguished Effort" Review of Sheba Potts-Wright's new I CAME TO GET DOWN CD.
February 1, 2015: "Memphis Stars" Featured Artist
NEW ALBUM ALERT
Sample/Buy Sheba Potts-Wright's new I CAME TO GET DOWN CD at Amazon.
Listen to Sheba Potts-Wright singing "I Didn't Come To Sit Down," the title track of her new CD, on YouTube.
December 14, 2014:
Watch the new live video of Sheba Potts-Wright singing "Stay With Your Wife" onstage on YouTube.
Watch for her upcoming CD to be released at the end of December.
Note: Sheba Potts-Wright also appears on Daddy B. Nice's original Top 100 Southern Soul Artists (90's-00's). The "21st Century" after Sheba Potts-Wright'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.
Scroll down this column to "Tidbits" for more recent updates on Sheba Potts-Wright, including Daddy B. Nice's 5-star ("Southern Soul Heaven") review of her BEST OF SHEBA POTTS-WRIGHT CD.
Daddy B. Nice's Original Critique:
Few performers have contributed more to contemporary Southern Soul music than Sheba Potts-Wright. At the dawning of the 21st century, when Peggy Scott-Adams was the "undisputed queen," as one of her late-90's albums accurately proclaims, and the other R&B divas of Scott's generation--Shirley Brown, Denise LaSalle, Barbara Carr, Dorothy Moore, Millie Jackson, Betty Wright--were relatively subdued and even searching for new artistic directions, Sheba Potts-Wright arrived on the scene as the first and foremost talent of a younger generation of women (Jackie Neal, LaKeisha, Vickie Baker, An-Jay) intent on bringing Southern Soul into the future.
Her self-titled debut album Sheba (Ecko, 2001), with her signature singles "Slow Roll It" and "Lipstick On His Pants," had the slickness and immediacy of powerful, early one-time singles like "Monkey Talk" by Stephanie McDee and "Lately" by the female trio Divine.
But Sheba also had a depth and scope unrivaled at the time. Almost every song on the CD arrived radio-ready, melodically-rich and lyrically-accessible, and to this day the themes and topics of Sheba are the ongoing issues and fodder of new Southern Soul songs.
Sheba's popularity was founded on her rare combination of ingenue-like sweetness and seasoned toughness. The toughness and roughness--the qualities that made Scott-Adams such a legend--co-existed in Sheba with a sweet-young-thing, come-hither flirtatiousness (skillfully incorporated into her vocal technique) that was out of the question for most of the older divas of traditional R&B.
Thus, "Slow Roll It" and "Lipstick On His Pants" appealed to fans not only for their lusty sensuality (in the great tradition of Scott-Adams, Brown, LaSalle and Carr) but the heightened hormonal state of the much younger female's voice. Sheba Potts-Wright's Sheba instantly brought a younger audience for Southern Soul to the fore.
Listen to Sheba Potts-Wright singing "Slow Roll It" on YouTube.
Listen to Sheba Potts-Wright singing "Lipstick On His Pants" on YouTube.
It was this potent blend of youthful innocence and steaming sexuality that Jackie Neal would ultimately exploit best on her landmark album, Down In Da Club, released before her untimely death five years later. Between them, Jackie and Sheba mapped out the territory for the dozens of young female Southern Soul singer/songwriters to come.
"Slow Roll It" was the centerpiece. Sheba's version of the Sir Charles Jones-written song recorded by The Love Doctor solidified the song's reputation as Southern Soul's new direction, and Sheba's version became just as popular as The Love Doctor's.
"Lipstick On His Pants," which Sheba has admitted in later interviews was as successful--if not more--than "Slow Roll It," was the novelty song of the era, the precursor of later hits such as Mr. Jody's "Your Dog Is Killing My Cat" and the late Judi Brown Eyes' "Sam."
Both songs plied the leisurely style of Ronnie Lovejoy's "Sho' Wasn't Me," solidifying more or less permanently the heart and soul of Southern Soul's mid-tempo appeal.
Encouraged almost immediately upon her success to adhere to the bluesier traditions of her hometown of Memphis, Sheba Potts-Wright has never put out another album of such acutely-honed, radio-friendly material. And while Sheba has recorded five more albums to date and a "Best Of" collection including such career-defining singles as "Private Fishing Hole" and "I Can Bagg It Up," she has never been able to surpass the pop luminosity of "Slow Roll It," "Lipstick On His Pants" and "I Caught You" from her stunning debut.
To read Daddy B. Nice's 5-star (Southern Soul Heaven) CD Review of THE BEST OF SHEBA POTTS-WRIGHT, scroll down this page to Tidbits #2.
To read Daddy B. Nice's Four-Star (Distinguished Effort) CD Review of Sheba Potts-Wright's LET YOUR MIND GO BACK (Ecko, 2011), go to Daddy B. Nice's Original Artist Guide to Sheba Potts-Wright and scroll down to the TIDBITS section.
Listen to Sheba Potts-Wright on iTunes.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Sheba Potts-Wright (Memphis Stars)
From an early age, growing up in such blues hubs as Chicago, Detroit, and Greenwood, Mississippi, Sheba Potts-Wright displayed the talents of a musical prodigy. A budding singer and multi-instrumentalist by the time she entered college, she had already toured the South with her high school band, opening for various R&B acts.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"It ain't what you got,
SHEBA POTTS-WRIGHT: The Best Of Sheba Potts-Wright (Ecko) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.
In a male-dominated business where a woman has to fend twice as hard as a man to make a career of any duration--one CD after another, year after year--who has accomplished as much?
The onetime young diva who made such a chitlin' circuit sensation with "Slow Roll It" and "Lipstick On His Pants" is now a mature woman with a string of CD's spanning a decade, and The Best of Sheba-Potts Wright instantly becomes the definitive Sheba Potts-Wright album.
The compilation borrows most heavily (and tellingly) from Potts-Wright's debut disc, Sheba ("Slow Roll It," "Lipstick On His Pants," "Love Fest," "I Caught You") and proceeds to gather in just about every single and CD-headliner (with the exception of "I'm A Bluesman's Daughter") since.
There are fourteen tracks, at least a dozen of them worthy choices, in this generous CD. "Slow Roll It" starts things off and immediately takes one back to 2000-2001 and young Sir Charles Jones and The Love Doctor. Sheba's was always the most polished (not necessarily the best) of the many versions, and the commercial feel of Sheba's "Slow Roll It" is a revelation.
"I Need A Cowboy To Ride My Pony" (her best album photo, backing it up in red leather) is followed by one of Sheba's all-time rockers, "I Can Bagg It Up," a cover of the Nathaniel Kimble tune of the same name. "I Can Bagg It Up" is from Sheba's second album, when she was still doing the commercial-sounding covers of which "Slow Roll It" was the finest example--a formula she drifted away from in recent years.
"I Can Bagg It Up" sounds if anything better than it did back in the day. You find yourself humming along, tapping your foot and thinking, "They don't sing them like this any more."
Next up is one of the anthems of Southern Soul music, "Lipstick On His Pants," another one of those perfectly-produced classics from Sheba's early period and her first big "original" song (written by John Cummings and Morris J. Williams). This highly entertaining and popular single made Sheba's name as a purveyor of lascivious lyrics.
But the sexual innuendo to end all sexual innuendo is consumated in the next track, the under-rated, witty and hilarious bar blues, "Private Fishing Hole," originally a response to Bobby Rush's popular "Night Fishin'," with lines such as:
"I've got a private fishing hole
On a private piece of land.
I'm going to open it up
To the right good fisherman."
And. . .
"You see, I don't let just anyone
Fish in my hole.
You've got to have a real good pole."
And. . .
"My fishing hole ain't been fished
In a real long while.
And if you're really good,
I'll take my "No Fishing" sign down."
"Big Hand Man," a typically-hedonistic, mid-tempo rocker with a super-confident vocal by Sheba, boasts a great arrangement. According to the theory posited by Sheba, the size of the hands corrresponds to the size of "what's in the pants." Big feet are good, too. This is great stuff--musical and great fun--old wive's tales updated for contemporary Southern Soul folklore.
"Private Fishing Hole" and "Big Hand Man" represent the bluesy drift in Sheba's more recent recordings. Her father, of course, is the Memphis bluesman Dr. Robert "Feelgood" Potts.
"Cruise Control" jumps back to the early years--another take on the "Slow Roll It" melody--as does "Love Fest." Then Sheba moves into one of her finest mid-period hits, "I Can Hear Your Macaroni," which sounds even better in retrospect.
"Macaroni" doesn't have the polished sound of the early hits. It's more down-to-earth, but there's no doubt it rocks, illustrating Sheba's uncanny ability to make music that sounds casual and easy-going.
"Leave Me Alone" is a rare, straight-ahead ballad, very much like "I Caught You," and both are from the debut album. "I Caught You" has always been one of Sheba's most poignant songs. And yet, Sheba grabs hold of the subject--betrayal--and meets it with that unerring, unflinching confidence that makes even the hurt seem inconsequential.
"She May Be The One You Want" and "You Were Wrong" are journeyman tracks that close out the collection by bringing you back down to earth.
You'll have to look hard and long to find a better, more consistently-rocking, Southern Soul record than Sheba Potts'-Wright's Best Of CD
The finest examples of the bluesy years--hits like "Big Hand Man," "Private Fishing Hole," and "I Can Hear Your Macaroni"--are indispensable, but it's the clear-eyed, brilliant accessibility of Sheba's early work that still resounds the most.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced The Best of Sheba-Potts Wright CD
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you liked The Pointer Sisters' "Slow Hand," you'll love Sheba Potts-Wright's "Slow Roll It."
Honorary "B" Side
"Lipstick On His Pants"
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