Evil Gal Blues
Michele Wilson and Evil Gal were the winners of The Memphis based Blues Foundation’s 1993 National Amateur Blues Talent Competition. Based on Evil Gal Blues, there can be little question that this woman can sing. A voice that generally is reminiscent of the Ruth Brown of the fifties, she also captures a bit of Dinah Washington on Cry Me a River, although without the nasal quality of Washington’s vocals. Listing to her handle Brown’s As Long As I’m Movin’, one might feel captured in a time warp. Her rendition of Dinah Washington’s Evil Gal Blues is refreshing, helped by superb, swinging arrangement that doesn’t clone Washington’s original with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. The three saxophones of Evil Gal may lack the brass of Roomful of Blues, but they hit a groove just like their more celebrated New England jump blues revivalists. Evil Gal has a swinging rhythm section and adds its own personality to these performances. Whether updating Ella Johnson’s I’m Just Your Fool or Lavern Baker’s Voodoo Voodoo, Michelle Wilson’s voice is never strident or pretentious sounding, and her phrasing is relaxed and assured. The overall result is some first rate music. And, she is not afraid to sing ballads, as in her rendition of Cry Me a River. I approached this with a bit of skepticism, but there is not a duff note on a terrific debut recording.
Another vintage review This review originally appeared in the September 1994 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 194). I probably received a review copy from Bullseye Blues. Here is a recent performance of singing As Long As I’m Movin’.