Little Sheba and the Shamans – Spinning Their Idols.
Release Date: 12 May 2023. Reviewed on 16th June by Dave Diamond.
BAND MEMBERS: Vocals: Arianna Kelly Drums: Greg Kazek Guitar: Joe Van Horn Rhythm Guitar: Paul Mallett Bass: Christian Little Mixed and mastered by: Greg Kazek. Cover Artwork: Arianna Kelly.
Introduction… Little Sheba and the Shamans are a kind of garage-a-fied, rockin' rhythm & blues band from Tampa, FL and its surrounding areas. “This new album, Spinning Their Idols, was recorded entirely in our living room and mixed and mastered by Greg, our drummer”, they say. “This album is kind of a "Play Their Favourites" style collection entirely made up of deep-dive covers by lots of our unsung or lesser-known heroes of the early rock n roll and R&B era. We've got originals in the works for the next album as we speak. We plan to put this out on CD format to have something to sell at shows, and if we feel there's enough demand, we'd love to do a small vinyl pressing at some point in the future as well.”
Let’s have a listen to the tracks: Same Thing: Starting off this opening track is the soulful lone voice of Ari that lasts for 8 seconds and then the rest of the band join in. This really is an infectious Rhythm and Blues take on the swaggering early Motown non-hit, that was originally recorded by Gino Parkes back in 1961 on the Tamla Label …it has a real rock ‘n’ rollin’ powerhouse bluesy vibe running from start to finish and it’s a tad slower than the original. The mixing and levels are really dynamic and what a kick off track from this band… wow really loving this tune, and it don’t arf pack a punch!
You Don’t Love Me: Here we have a real rocked up version of the slow blues Willie Cobbs number first recorded back in 1960... and a year later a rocked up faster version by Jay Swan that is played often on the rockin’ scene. I was really looking forward to hearing the bands take on their version and believe you me… this does not disappoint at all… Think of live bands at the Rum Boogie Café and BB Kings Blues Club on Beale Street, Memphis amongst all those great artists hanging on the wall and you won’t be far off… they would be looking down and smiling on this up-tempo tune… I was digging it so much, that I just had to go back and play it again, trust me daddio’s you will want to too!! This is a real rocked up growlin’ Blues-tastic high-tempo version indeed… Turn it up Loud!
Soulful Dress: Once again another stompin’ cover version from Little Sheba and the Shamans… Wow, what an amazing voice Ari really does have… it’s truly infectious and we are only three songs in, the musicianship from all the band is pure exceptional… they really do have something special! Sugar Pie Desanto recorded her version back in1964; just check out the original lyrics… “If you wanna keep your man, you better keep as sharp as you can, I'll be at my best, when I put on my soulful dress!”�
Jump Jack Jump: Wynona Carr recorded this jump blues track on the Speciality Label back in 1956 and she also co-wrote it too! So, here the band take it on, and it just goes to show that there is no end to their fabulous talents, as they have slowed it down slightly and made a more groove feel to this version. Once again, the musicianship is top notch, and this track will go down really well at all the clubs here in the U.K. and around Europe!
Mojo Hannah: First recording and the first release by Henry Lumpkin, and this version is based on the Little Esther Phillips take, written by Andre Williams and Clarence Paul. Her version was released back in 1964 on Atlantic Records. Mojo Hannah is a super-tough woman who can match and better most men on about...anything, and this time round yet again the band take on another tough tune and excel in all areas. Absolutely cookin’, smokin' hot and pure powerhouse! I feel the heat comin' off this one…awesome tune!
Take Me As I Am: Here the band take on the fab Sam Cooke track recorded back in 1963, and they have brought right up to date with a dirtier guitar sound, gritty ferocious vocal, and a steady backbeat from the rhythm section… it’s 2 minutes 19 seconds of absolute excellence and once again another fantastic cover version from the band.
BBQ: Originally sung by Wendy Rene, and t was first released back on the legendary Stax label in 1964 and written by Brown/Cropper… check out those lyrics… “sister's out back sittin' in the swing, she wants some barbecue, little brother's on the porch doin' handsprings, singin' i'd like some barbecue!” Once again Little Sheba And The Shamans have done a fantastic version and sped this one up that makes it more foot tapping, and for sure they has more of a swing feel to it that’s sure gonna get you out on the floor!
Wondrous Place:Here we go! Now we’re mid-way through and the band have taken on the fantastic classic written by Jeff Lewis and Bill Giant and first released by American singer Jimmy Jones on his debut album Good Timin' in May 1960. It has a popcorn beat feel to it, and then just 4 months later by Billy Fury as a single in September that peaked at number 25 that I would say has a more atmospheric meaningful feel to it.. “I found a place full of charms, a magic world in my baby's arms, her soft embrace like satin and lace, wondrous place!” Here the band have gone for a slightly slower moody version that showcases Ari’s lead vocal range once again to its upmost, and I would say it has a mixture of both Jimmy’s and Billy’s versions… fabulous!
My Black Belt: Here’s a tune from the vaults of Soul sung by Hattie Littles, who was an early Motown singer that was signed to the GORDY Label, and to be honest a new track for me. Here we have 2 minutes 48 seconds of pure groove and a fab feelin’ tune…fantastic instrumental section on this one, another tune that could be right outta Beale!
I Can’t Hear You: here the band take on the 1964 track by Betty Everett that has a fab arrangement and production…she was an African-American soul singer and pianist and charted eighteen times between 1963 and 1974, recording her first single way back in 1957! This tune really encapsulates that early 60s songwriting style and I really love the scornful passionate lead vocal accompanied once again with awesome musicianship.
I’ve Got A Claim On You: this number was actually sung and written by Betty Everett back in 1962 and the label it came out on is aptly named… One-Derful! Here Little Sheba And The Shamans add that bit of rhythm and grooves to their cover and real powerhouse gritty vocals once again from Ari… Rhythm and Blues-tastic! Pure dynamic!
Trouble Up The Road: fantastic blues bop from Ike Turner and his band with Jackie Brensten on vocals, and this was actually written by Ike Turner back in 1961 and issued on the Sue Records Inc label. I’ve heard this played many times on the club circuit and this take is actually over 30 seconds longer. Here we have a slightly slower take than the original, that brings that extra mellow vibe to it. Fantastic stuff once again folks!
Wait A Minute: Written by Barbara Stephens and sung by her back in 1962 with piano and handclaps both being very prominent on her original version.. Well, you asked me for a date eleven Tuesday night, (Wait a minute, wait a minute),You said everything was gonna turn out right, (Wait a minute, wait a minute), I'm still a-waitin' about a half past two, (Wait a minute, wait a minute), A-waitin’ and a-waitin’ and a-waitin' on you.” … the mixing and mastering is spot on with the drums and bass sitting higher in the mix alongside the guitar, great tone on lead vocal and a real catchy tune.
Open Up The Door: Great RNB number that was originally released in 1958 on the Ace label. Little Booker is the legendary New Orleans pianist James Booker and It's Joe Tex on vocals, released back in 1958 and at 1:36 a short song… The band take this on as a cover and it starts off with the drums, swiftly followed by the rest of the band… it’s a terrific zestful tune that is full of energy. Would love to see this version played live…tremendous!
I Take What I Want: so here’s the final track from this fabulous release, it first was released on the Stax label in 1965 and sung by Soul Legends Sam & Dave.. “I've been watchin' you walk by, and I haven't said a word, not one word, but now I'm ready to get you, and I'm gonna make you my girl, my lovin' girl ‘… pure romantic lyrics! The original is 2:28 and this version is a groove-tastic 4minutes 3 seconds…loving the staggered section at 1:26 pure rocked up rhythm and blues with a garage rock twist to it!
In their own words: "I believe we started back in 2013, we've never taken ourselves super seriously, just kind of a casual band of friends that play local shows every once in awhile. We are all big nerdy fans of early roots music and history, and all of the contemporary artists that have sprung from that same well, so our influences are deep and vast. Paul, our rhythm guitar player, is also a swing dance DJ with a deep knowledge and huge collection of music. In our infancy, when we were tossing around ideas of what we were shooting for, the big three that were definitely mentioned quite a bit were Nick Curran, JD McPherson, and The Detroit Cobras. Naturally, along with being fans of old music, we are fans of the old instruments that made that music. We all play either vintage or reissue instruments to achieve not only the sound but also the aesthetic we're after. We've been very lucky to play shows with a bunch of our heroes and get to know them a bit. We're hoping this new album will help us reach a broader audience so we can do more of the same. We'd love to get booked on some festivals, etc. to open up some travel possibilities. We're playing the Rockabillaque festival in South Carolina in November and we're really looking forward to that. We played the Florida Rockabillaque in January and had a blast.”
YOU TUBE LINK: https://youtu.be/XMv5Ro2qzM0
Distribution: via the bands spotify: Tinyurl.com/SpinningTheirIdols
CLOSING COMMENTS ABOUT THE ALBUM: If you love your Rhythm and Blues rocked up with a garage rock twist to it, then look no further than Little Sheba And The Shamans! These 15 cover versions have been a real joy to listen to and review and I cannot wait to hear their own self-penned originals sometime soon on their next album release… as the band mentioned, these songs are available via Spotify and they are looking at a C.D. release in the future. Stay tuned on this band as they really do have a fantastic unique style and a fabulous sound running through the whole band and wow… what a voice… vocal-tabulous!
Reviewed by Dave Diamond