Shemekia Copeland

Shemekia Copeland
Deluxe Edition

Alligator Records (B004BBPKWM)

By Mrs. Georgetown Fats
March 2011

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Georgetown and I share similar opinions of music. Though many of our vacations have revolved around heading to music destinations to see some of our favorite musicians play Chicago, Memphis or New Orleans, Shemekia Copeland is one of my personal favorites.

We both discovered Ms. Copeland early in 2001, when she stole the show from others at the B.B. King Blues Festival at Harborlights (or whatever the hell it was called at the time) and have actively followed her career. We have caught Ms. Copeland live in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Chicago and in Memphis and listened and watched her career through all of her impressive releases from Alligator, and her disappointing release on Telarc. Georgetown and I witnessed Shemekia steal the show from Susan Tedeschi a few years ago at the Hampton Beach casino and, as fans will do, we even made sure to come home with a silent auction piece of hers from the Blues Awards a few years ago. It is safe to say that I am a fan and there is a standing edict that I have first dibs on all new Shemekia Copeland releases when they enter the home and before they can be assigned to others within the Boston Blues Society.

This time, I wish I just left well enough alone.

All 16 tracks tracks on Deluxe Edition are of the same high quality of song writing and musicianship that has convinced me to personally buy Ms. Copeland’s entire collection over the years and often during her live shows. Ms. Copeland has a talent better than any of her contemporaries, and she is backed by incredibly strong musicians who never overshadow the vocalist. Unfortunately, there isn’t one shred of originality or new material on Deluxe Edition. There are no live recordings on the disk, there are no alternate tracks, there is just nothing new here. It would take an incredibly skilled ear, or incredibly die-hard fan to differentiate between the original recordings from her 13 year career on Alligator and the remastered tunes on Deluxe Edition.

While “It’s 2AM,” “When a Woman’s Had Enough,” and “Livin’ on Love” still remain fantastic tracks, I personally wish the folks at Alligator or with Ms. Copeland’s camp could have just given us a little more with this release rather than attempt to produce a “Best Of” for someone who has not had an extensively long career. It is a damn shame that it was a corporate decision to release Deluxe Edition rather than put efforts behind a new release or at least a live release; as is, it smacks of nothing other than a money grab, when downloading singles from the web is also an option.

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