Review: Teresa James – With A Little Help From Her Friends


Teresa James - With A Little Help From Her Friends

Teresa James – With A Little Help From Her Friends
Format: CD – Digital / Label: Blue Heart Records
Release: 2023

Tekst: Bert van Kessel

Blues diva Teresa James and her husband, bassist/producer Terry Wilson were working  on a few Beatles-songs during the pandemic just to keep themselves occupied; they called in their band The Rhythm Tramps (= L.A.’s finest session musicians) and they liked what they had come up with. Terry invited his friend Kevin McKendree as co-producer to polish up the recordings, and in the end they all  believed these recordings called for a release.

Their record company Blue Heart Records was immediately happy with the idea and so here it is: 10 exquisite Beatles songs getting the Texas roadhouse soul treatment that these Rhythm Tramps are famous for.

Opening track Ticket To Ride is given some real Texas grease  Teresa’s smoky vocals are drenched in blues and she really lets go. In spite of some fine vocals and ditto guitar solo, track 2 Taxman which is given a generous dose of California psychedelics, is unconvincing and rather superfluous.

But that is totally made up for with the slow-burner Don’t Let Me Down,which fits Teresa’s vocals like a glove.The lesser-known Happy Just To Dance With You from “A Hard Day’s Night” is a light-hearted, soulful ditty which is  reminiscent of Memphis  and particularly  B.B. King.

The superb Oh Darlin’ puts Teresa James’ convincing vocals centre-stage, fortunately leaving ample space for excellent fretwork by Yates McKendree (yes, the son)  and some wonderfully supportive keyboards. This astounding triad is seamlessly continued on You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away.

Blasting from a roadhouse jukebox is Everybodys Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey. It is followed by an intimate version of George Harrison’s plaintive You Won’t See Me. Their version of No Reply does not stray far from John Lennon’s original and includes a variety of musical styles with even  a bit of latin jazz .

The closing track Think For Yourself on the other hand  is nearly  unrecognizable, being slow and sensual with seductive  harmonies.

The warmth and respect with which these outstanding Beatles tunes are delivered, emphasize the craftsmanship of Teresa James and her Rhythm Tramps.

01. Ticket to Ride
02. Taxman
03. Don’t Let Me Down
04. Happy Just to Dance with You
05. Oh Darlin’ (feat. Yates McKendree)
06. Hide Your Love Away
07. Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
08. You Won’t See Me
09. No Reply
10. Think for Yourself