MARIE QUEENIE LYONS: ‘Soul Fever’ (Label: Vampisoul)

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  • MARIE QUEENIE LYONS: ‘Soul Fever’ (Label: Vampisoul)

Though this album has been reissued on vinyl recently and some of its track have been cherry picked for CD compilations over the years, it’s surprising to discover that this is the first official CD reissue of an LP regarded as one of funk’s Holy Grails. Little is known about Louisiana-born Marie Lyons except that she recorded this one-off 12-track LP for DeLuxe, a subsidiary of King Records, in 1970. Handling the production was one Hal Neely, who worked for King and was considered as James Brown’s right hand man in the company’s Cincinnati studios, where this record was probably cut. With her declamatory, large-lunged vocal sound, Lyons sounds like she came from James Brown’s stable of stentorian female singers – though due to the huskiness of her voice, she’s more like Lyn Collins than Marva Whitney. Overall, ‘Soul Fever’ is a solid set – the killer cut is the propulsive, funk-fuelled ‘You’re Thing Ain’t No Good Without My Thing.’ Also noteworthy is the humorous double entendre-based funk workout, ‘Your Key Don’t Fit It No More.’ Listen out, too, for ‘Snake In The Grass’ and the ballad ‘You Used Me.’ Lyons also puts a playful funk twist on Peggy Lee’s jazz staple, ‘Fever.’ It works well. The album’s closer is Lyons’ take on the old James Brown show-stopping ballad, ‘Try Me.’ Lyons’ high-decibel, full-throated vocals might not be to everyone’s taste, but if you’re a funk fanatic, then put this at the top of your shopping list.
(CW) 4/5