September 26, 2023
Gaye Adegbalola – Satisfied – An Anthology

Gaye Adegbalola – Satisfied – An Anthology

Vizztone Label Group

20 Tracks – 77 minutes

Fredericksburg, Virginia native Gaye Adegbalola, born Gaye Todd, has a long history. She graduated from Boston College with a biology major. She initially worked as a biochemical researcher for Rockefeller University and then later as a bacteriologist at a Harlem hospital. She helped organize the Harlem Committee on self-defense and then returned to Frederciksburg to teach science in schools for gifted children. Her father, Clarence Todd, was a jazz musician and her mother, Gladys, was a social activist.

In 1984, she joined with Ann Rabson and Earlene Lewis, to form Saffire—The Uppity Blues Women.  Andra Faye later replaced Earlene.  The group released their first album, “Middle Age Blues” in 1987. as an independent release. In 1990, they became an Alligator Records artist and never looked back. The group broke up in 2009, but Gaye had started a solo career in 1999 with the release of her first album Bitter Sweet Blues and has continued performing and recording to present day.

All songs on the album are written by Gaye except for one cover.  She also is a multi-instrumentalist playing acoustic guitar, acoustic slide guitar, and harmonica on the various tracks and is the sole lead vocalist throughout the album.  Roddy Barnes plays piano on all of the tracks and Jeff Covert plays all electric guitars, bass, drums, banjo and co-produced this album with Gaye.

The album is an anthology of 20 songs from previous albums and individual song releases, including two from that first album.  The album opens with “Big Ovaries, Baby”, which comes from that 1999 album. She declares “she speaks her mind” and her “Big Ovaries” are basically equivalent to “balls of steel”.  “Let Go, Let God”, the second song, “from that album is the 19th track on the CD.  Both are noted as being re-recorded for this anthology.

The second song on this anthology is a new song recorded specifically for this release. “Look at the Forehead, Maury”, a social story pleading to her former lover to recognize her son. Two songs come from her 2004 album Neo-Classic Blues. The first of those two songs is “The Dirty Dozens” featuring Barnes honky-tonk blues piano as she declares her man is a liar and cheater. On the second, she goes out with her women friends because “sure aren’t no men” “…but no one has caught me” and proclaims no one can “Prove it On Me Blues”.

Three songs come from her 2008 album, Gaye Without Shame. On the first “Tippin’ on the Down Low” she declares her man better come clean “your cover is about to be blown”. The sole cover is The Everly Brother’s hit song “Let It Be Me” with Cleome Bova performing a duet with her..  The final song from this album is “Hetero Twinges” which gets to rocking with Bob Margolin playing the guitar and bass while  Gaye expresses a love for a man who “is so sexy, he is built up from the ground.” She “knew it would never work out, but he is just so fine.”

Her 2018 album The Griot is described as topical songs for topical times. Five songs come from this album. The first “3 Hour Shoes (Stylin’ for the Lord)” is a story of her Sunday dress which includes shoes killing her feet after three hours – “her soul was impressed, but her soles were from the devil”. “Tea Cake Kind of Love” features her acoustic slide guitar as she declares Tea Cake is her lover and needs “some tea cake lovin’ to satisfy my mind”. On the “Jelly Bean Blues” she wonders and cries “where has my Jelly Bean gone away?” On “Nothing’s Changed”, she looks at the racism that is still prevalent in our society and looks back to Emmett Till, and then to today with hate crimes increasing. On “Ain’t Technology Grand” she expresses excitement over her use of her phone and all she can accomplish from her hand.

IN 2006, she experimented with synthesizer technology on “These Blues Are Mine”. Juno Todd plays the synthesizer on the track. Her blues remain true even mixed with the more modern sound.

2019’s Blues in All Flavors was written as a rocking blues album for children. “The Cleanest Kid” urges that dirty kid to scrub high and low. On “Blues for the Greens (The Broccoli Song)” she expresses love for all greens, but “Broccoli is number one”.

In 2012, she released “The Dog Was Here First”, a song that was nominated for a Blues Music Award and sung with the four-person background group The Wild Rutz. As indicated by the title, she protests that his dog takes precedent over her, and she does not like it as the dog “now has his nose up in my business”.

One song comes from 2021’s Freedom Song Trilogy Volume 1, and two from 2023’s Volume 2.  “Keep The Faith” comes from the first album and starts the first of three songs with a spiritual feel.  “Winona” is noted as written for Fannie Lou Hamer, the 1960’s social activist who ran for Congress as a member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. It is the first song from the second album. Gaye pulls out the harmonica for this one. She concludes the album with “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and offers a prologue explaining how the song has become the “Negro National Album”. She performs it as a solo artist backing herself on acoustic guitar.

She states in her liner notes ”In the course of my blues journey, I’ve tried to spread the joy, the liberation and the healing power of the blues to various artists.” A well stated mission statement and well accomplished.

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