By James Calemine
Released in 1971, Straight From The Heart counted as Ann Peebles’ third album. Produced by Hi Records legend Willie Mitchell Straight From The Heart generated four hits.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Peebles began singing in the church with her family when she was a child. In 1968, Peebles was discovered by Hi Records’ George “Bowlegs” Miller. Soon Peebles began writing and singing tunes for the legendary Memphis label. Peebles later cited her musical influences as Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Franklin.
Straight From The Heart features the Hi Records Rhythm Section that included Howard Grimes (drums), Leroy Hodges (bass), Charles Hodges (organ & piano), Teenie Hodges (guitar), Wayne Jackson (trumpet), Andrew Love (tenor), James Mitchell (bass) and Jack Hale (trombone).
The album opens with the funk gem written by Wayne Jackson titled “Slipped, Tripped And Fell In Love”. Co-written with her husband Don Bryant “Trouble, Heartaches & Sadness” showcases the golden voice of Ann Peebles. Peebles collaborated with R&B vocalist Denise LaSalle on the sultry “What You Laid On Me”.
One of the most moving tracks on this album serves as Peebles’ cover of the Bettye Crutcher song “How Strong Is A Woman”. The lyric “I heard a woman say she could do anything any man can/But I’m here to tell you that woman who said it didn’t have herself a man” drives a stake through the heart of the women’s liberation.
“Somebody’s On Your Case” revolves around a cheating lover that evokes universal truths. The standard cover “I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home” charted in the R & B Top 20. The venom of this song resonates on various soulful levels. The original composition, “I’ve Been There Before”, weaves another story of lost love. “I Pity The Fool” sends out a message to a poisonous ex-lover.
“99 Pounds” captures the essence of Ann Peebles. Written by Don Bryant, Peebles sings “99 pounds of natural born goodness/99 pounds of soul” with such conviction you know she’s singing about herself. Good things come in small packages, indeed. “I Take What I Want” closes Straight From the Heart with such a soulful sass that just this song pays for the price of the album. Straight From The Heart contains musical evidence of why Ann Peebles exists as an original funk-soul sister.