Marcia Ball
Let Me Play With Your Poodle
Rounder 3151
From Jerry Lee Lewis 40 years ago to Ben Folds today, manhandling a piano is a time-honored rock'n'roll tradition. Texas blues pianist Marcia Ball does something much cooler than that to her piano: She womanhandles it.

Unless you play basketball for a living, Ball is probably a great deal taller than you are (not for nothing do they call her "Long, Tall Marcia Ball" back home in Austin). She wears slinky cocktail dresses onstage and sings right pretty, playing a wicked barrelhouse piano while she's at it. And all the while, she keeps time by kicking the piano in flawless rhythm. Just hard enough to let it know who's boss, you understand.

Ball does more or less the same thing on Let Me Play With Your Poodle, an exceedingly entertaining exposition on feminine wiles. It's a song cycle of sorts, tracing the arc of male-female relationships from initial attraction to crying time and beyond. Ball comes across as a hard-headed-but-soft-hearted gal, hitting a just-right balance between ribald double entendres like the swaggering title track (which ain't about dogs) and proudly sappy fare like "Why Women Cry."

Of particular note is "The Right Tool for the Job," which ain't about anything you'll find in a garage, either. A "Passionate Kisses" for the bar-band blues set, "Tool" concludes with a wish list that ends, "A fan that keeps me cool at night/A man that always loves me right."

You got it.

-- David Menconi

This page and all contents are © 1997 by BLUES ACCESS,
Boulder, CO, USA.