Fiery haired Liz Mandeville is a blues-er as sassy as the day is long. Like Etta James, she holds back for no one and belts 'em out as proud as you please. Nor is she a shrinking violet lyrically, lauding the virtues of drinking, loving, carousing, and going for the gusto. If anyone wants to even hint that this woman's the frail, retiring, decorous femme, then I'm George Bush's bastard brother…perish the thought (shudder)!
This is boogie, barrel, and blustery blues in a CD that takes no prisoners, the singer-guitarist leading a set of Chi-town vets through their bouncing paces in full-blooded fashion. Even the laybacks like Dog No More have an air of menace and no-bullshit attitude cutting through the niceties. RedTop is Liz's fourth solo venture, and she knows precisely what she means to say.
Decades ago, Jass Records issued a 5-LP anthology box entitled Them Dirty Blues, what it called a "Copulation Compilation" gathering up 20s and 30s blues tunes centered in sexual innuendo, and Mandeville, had she been around then, would've made the cut, no problems. Spanky Butt and several tracks on Red Top cleave close to the jellyroll / slinking snake back-door lover mode, and, if you're like me, you can't get enough of this stuff while wasting away in this Puritanical Christian hell-hole America has become, so I invite you to lay an ear.
Not a cut is wasted on this release but I found an unusually touching story below the brass and lubricity: Mandeville had a dog named Johnny who was highly human and Liz's boon companion. In a rehearsal gig with sessioneers, Johnny suddenly appeared, lay down, and began chewing her squeaky toy in rhythm, to the delight of the ensemble. Johnny's now passed on, and Liz misses her deeply and will continue to do so until she herself leaves this realm, but it shows that there's some blues you can never get rid of. Maybe that's a good thing, 'cause the hurt can serve to remind us of what makes our time in this strange planetary monkey cage worthwhile.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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