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Carla (1966) - Best R&B Album from Carla Thomas

Remembering the Sunshine Era...

"Carla" is a powerful statement from Carla Thomas, featuring the single "BABY"

The album "Carla" was released for Stax Records in 1966, which was recorded by 23-year-old Carla Thomas following her previous albums "Comfort Me" and "Gee Whiz". Previous albums helped Carla Thomas rise to number 130 on the R&B albums chart. The album "Carla" included the hit single "BABY" which rose to an impressive number 3 on the singles chart.

Carla Thomas is a native of Memphis, her seductive voice combined tenderness and harshness. By 1960, she had joined a label that was known as "Satellite Records". In the same year, together with her father, she recorded the memorable duet "Cause I Love You". Her father's name was Memphis Rufus, at that time he worked as a radio host, all his children were inclined towards music. At that time, Carla Thomas was only 17 years old, she was still in high school, thanks to their chic duet with her father, her life changes dramatically.

Atlantic producer and promoter Jerry Wexler was enthusiastic about the duo and convinced the Satellite co-owners to sign an agreement with the label. Thanks to Atlantic, in early 1961, Karla Thomas recorded her first solo national hit with the song "Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes)", which became a top five R&B hit. Jerry Wexler convinced the co-owners to change the label's name from Satellite to Stax in order to tap into the R&B hit market. Understandably, the hit "BABY", with its throbbing bassline and soulful refrain, was the opening song on the Carla LP. The singer's previous hit was the hilarious "Let Me Be Good To You" (another Hayes-Porter number), which peaked at number 11 on the 1966 US charts.

In addition, the album showcased Carla Thomas as a more than capable songwriter. She later sang the flamboyant and daring R&B "I Got You, Boy", the pleading romantic ballad "What Have You Got To Offer Me", and co-wrote "Fate" with Isaac Hayes and James Cross. Like many R&B albums of the 60s, "Carla" included covers of pop, blues and even country hits. Of the latter, "I Fall To Pieces" is Carla's heartfelt reading of Patsy Cline's 1961 Nashville Queen hit. She also presents an outstanding version of Hank Williams' heartbreaking anthem "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry".

Carla Thomas has left her indelible mark on blues connoisseur Willie Dixon's classic "Red Cockerel" as Jimmy Reed's chugging, sassy "Baby What You Want Me To Do" (featuring Steve Cropper guitar) transitions into the smooth ballad "For Your Love", a 1958 hit for R&B singer Ed Townsend.

The album's finale, "Looking Back", was co-written by singer Brook Benton and in 1958 performed by crooner Nat King Cole, who turned it into a top 5 R&B hit.

Carla Thomas continued to record for Stax until 1973, before slipping quietly from the R&B spotlight with only a brief resurgence with a couple of live albums.

Carla remains her most commercially successful solo album and arguably her most powerful artistic statement. Over 50 years later, it has become a must-listen album in the Stax catalog.

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