Well, first of all, I'd never heard of Lisa Mills, but she grabbed Andy Fairweather-Low for her band, and I'll snap up anything Low's on, so that was a sure thing. Then I laid an ear to the singer herself and was thunderstruck: "Whoa!", I'm thinkin' "Why haven't I heard this woman before?!?!?!". She harks back to a day when Genya Ravan, Tracy Nelson, Gayle MacCormick, Janis Joplin, and the brassy fireball femmes were tearing things up. Joni, Joan, and Judy may have been laying out beautiful renaissance dulcet tones, sure, but there was also a side pocket of uppity wimmens who were out to crash through that tradition and get down with the Otises, the Reverend Greens, the Percys, the Arethas, the Tinas, and all the souled-out stompers, shouters, screamers, and earthy-as-hell testifiers. Y'all, if there's an epiphany of all that coming on again, and I hope to God there is, then Lisa Mills is a solid part of the forefront and no mistake. I may not have known of her before, but I sure as hell know her now.
As Tina once famously said "We don't nevah evah do nothin' nice and easy!", and neither does Mills, a woman who can go from sultry to volcanic in the blink of a sultry eyelash, though she surely knows how to slink vixen arms around a seductive ballad. Across the waters in the UK, she's been touring for 10 years, playing and recording with gents like Dr. John, Delbert McCinton, Junior Wells, and Albert Lee—not exactly lightweights, hm? Tempered in Fire shows why those estimables chose this raw, spirited, fiery redhead: you just don't run across vocalists this tempestuous any more. I have a huge music collection and doubt I could locate more than a dozen women quite as full throttle and naked as Mills. More, her accompaniment is low-down and funky, cultivating a New Orleans street sound that cuts through all genres.
In fact, Sam Andrew was so impressed with the singer that he hired her to replace St. Janis when Big Brother and the Holding Company conducted an international three-year tour not long ago, and, good God, I hope to hell someone got footage of that because music like this is all too rare. Andy Low's rough chords and glorious, nasty, sometimes almost deliriously clunky leads a la the Faces in their prime are so damned drenched in the heyday of the 60s and 70s that had I pulled a heart attack while listening to this disc, it would've required the skills of a half-dozen surgeons to get the grin of pleasure off my face. My absolute fave wimmen screamers of all time are Joplin and Janita Haan, then there's Darby Mills and others following close behind (not to mention Aretha, Tina, etc.), but Mills now closes ranks with 'em, so, yeah, if you were too drugged up, drunknacious, or both and more back in the day, as so many of us were, I suggest you grab this smokin' disc. You'll very quickly remember what you too soon forgot, I gah-roan-tee you that, Josiah.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles