ANN PEEBLES – I Can’t Stand the Rain (1974)

Review by: Jonathan Moss
Album assigned by: Charly Saenz

My introduction for this review can’t hope to be as good to the introduction to this album. Based on the album cover and Wikipedia page I expected soul music and yet the title track decided to announce itself with a really strange, cool synth riff that wouldn’t sound out of place in a some sort of electronic song, maybe Jean-Michel Jarre. Outside of this the song is soul but it’s a very strong soul number, featuring a passionate vocal performance which isn’t without its nuance, such as the way Ann almost trembles the word “rain” in the chorus. Its very catchy as well, with a kind of triumphant vibe, and a melancholic undercurrent. With all that and the cool synth riff what more do you want from your soul?

Unfortunately the rest of the album for the most part really doesn’t live up to it. The second song doesn’t have a cool riff but still sounds almost identical in its instrumentation and vibe, even quoting the first song. It’s not nearly as good, though it has some nice horn playing. For the most part this album is VERY similar instrumentally and vocally, featuring keyboards, strings, horns, electric guitars and some very good, punchy drumming, over which Ann Peebles delivers her passionate but tastefully restrained vocals. The songs are alls able to distinguish themselves in some way. “(You Keep Me) Hanging On” opens with a cool, suave guitar lick, “Run Run Run” has some boisterous horns, “If We Can’t Trust Each Other” features bouncy, melodic keyboard playing, “A Love Vibration” particularly stands out with the punchy, fun drum playing and “You Got to Feed the Fire” has a groovy organ. Despite this the similarities of the songs can’t help and the album gets a bit samey and boring.

This leaves three stand out tracks outside of the title one. “Until You Came Into My Life” is a very nice ballad with pretty guitar playing and strings. The organ playing sounds a bit like “A Lighter Shade of Pale” and I can imagine the song fitting perfectly over a dark, rainy scene in a gangster movie. The others are “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse” and “One Way Street” which thankfully end the album, leaving it on a high note. “Playhouse” is a sassy, sexy song which lyrically is about a cheating husband (I think). The vocal performance is suitably biting, especially with the accompanying strings and horns, yet there’s also some very nice subdued guitar playing which suggests the sadness and betrayal Ann Peebles must feel deep down about her husband being unfaithful. “One Way Street” has a great instrumental, with a glistening keyboard line opening it and a melodic piano line carrying it. It’s a catchy song and Ann’s vocal is strong as well, with that restrained passion I talked about earlier.

Overall this is a good album, with several stand out tracks. Despite this it’s probably best served as background music, though hopefully you do pay close attention during the highlights.