Barbara Lynn

I’m A Good Woman

Many of Barbara’s compositions were what might be termed women’s songs, few more so than her Tribe debut, “I’m A Good Woman,” an uncompromising tango which must have touched a raw nerve with all mistreated spouses who heard it. The track hovered beneath the Hot 100 in the summer of 1966 and boasted, in the calypso-styled “Running Back,” a very commercial flip-side. Barbara’s original version of Dan Penn and Rick Hall’s now famous song, “You Left The Water Running,” was her top of the range follow-up. Although a modest R’n’B hit, it also just failed to reach the Pop chart. The Joe Tex-composed “Watch The One (That Brings The Bad News)” was the type of strong narrative number at which Barbara excelled, but her bluesy reading failed to click with consumers, as did her fourth and final Tribe 45, “I Don’t Want A Playboy.” Barbara’s excellent “Sugar Coated Love,” released on Meaux’s small Copyright label, was perhaps again too rootsy to appeal to the masses.

BL_3

Atlantic Records

September 1967 marked a change of direction for Barbara, as she switched recording location to Clinton, Mississippi for sessions cut under the guidance of the team of Cliff Thomas, Ed Thomas, and Bob McRee, the fruits of which were leased by Meaux to Atlantic Records in New York. The resulting Ozen-penned “This Is The Thanks I Get” ended Barbara’s three-year dry period when it hit the Hot 100 early in 1968. It was soon followed by her second album, Here Is Barbara Lynn, recorded at subsequent sessions with the same team.

The LP saw Barbara surrender much of the songwriting duties to Thomas, Thomas, and McRee, but it did contain such excellent self-authored numbers like “(Until Then) I’ll Suffer” and “You’re Losing Me,” the latter failing to chart when selected for release as her second Atlantic 45. Her next sessions, with arrangers Spooner Oldham and Charlie Chalmers at the fabled Fame Studios in Florence, Alabama, provided her with material for two singles, but neither “You’re Gonna See A Lot More (Of My Leaving)” nor her version of Clarence Carter’s “He (She) Ain’t Gonna Do Right” saw much action.

There then followed a three year recording hiatus, which Atlantic broke with the 45 release of “(Until Then) I’ll Suffer” and “Take Your Love And Run,” two standout tracks from her album. The single, which also saw regional release on Meaux’s Jetstream label, provided the now married artist with her biggest R’n’B hit since “It’s Better To Have It” some six years earlier, and precipitated her return to recording, this time at her manager’s Sugar Hill Studios in Houston. “I’m A One Man Woman” consolidated her revived fortunes, but the next 45, “(Daddy Hot Stuff) You’re Too Hot To Hold,” failed to register. A Jetstream single coupling the two B-sides, “Nice And Easy” and “You Better Quit It,” appeared around the same time. Barbara capped her five-year stint at Atlantic in fine style with the self-written “It Ain’t No Good To Be Too Good,” and then put her record button on pause for another three years. After a superb Jetstream double header which paired “Movin’ On A Groove” and “Disco Music,” Barbara’s recorded output slowed to a trickle with “Give Him His Freedom” on Starflite and “I’m Still The Same” on Jamstone being her only known releases over the next decade.

Barbara spent several years touring the Southern States and in 1984 overcame her fear of air travel by flying to Japan, where Tokyo gigs yielded a live double album We Got A Good Thing Goin‘ on Dead Ball. In 1988 she released the Ichiban LP You Don’t Have To Go and followed that with a set entitled So Good on Bullseye some six years later. Further CDs have been released in recent years.

BL_4

On CD

The advent of the CD era has seen Barbara’s impressive body of 1960s and 1970s work anthologized in fine style. The Ichiban label was first off the mark in 1996 with The Best Of Barbara Lynn: The Atlantic Years, which gathered together the bulk of her 1967-1973 recordings. Her entire output for Jamie, including a long-lost (faux) live album and a number of fabulous previously unissued tracks, was packaged as two discs entitled You’ll Lose A Good Thing and Promises by Bear Family. Barbara’s recordings for Huey Meaux’s logos are available on Edsel’s The Crazy Cajun Recordings and Westside’s Blue Soul Belles, Volume 2: The Complete Tribe And Jetstream Recordings. It’s not possible to recommend any of these CDs too highly.

In recent times many of Barbara’s vintage recordings have enjoyed popularity on the northern soul scene, a happenstance which culminated in the singer making her first ever trip to Britain in 1999 for a live show. I was there to witness Barbara strap on her guitar, and can report that she sounded and looked as great as ever.

(This article first appeared on the original version of Cha Cha Charming.com)

One Response to Barbara Lynn

  1. Julio Niño says:

    This post about Barbara Lynn was one of my favorites in ChChCh (my absolute favorite was probably Ellie´s interview). Barbara is one of a kind. Have you listened to her demo of “You´ll Lose A Good Thing”? It´s included in Kent´s compilation about South Texas R&B productions by Huey Meaux. It´s fantastic. I´m a total fan of Meaux´s productions. He had a very interesting life too. Ace is currently mining his vaults and I´m daydreaming about a compilation on his Chicano Soul productions. We´ll see.
    Julio Niño.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *