If I had to list my five favourite female singers, it would include both Minogues, La Toya, Olivia Newton-John and Millie Jackson. I don't think I could rank them. How do you separate such heavenly creatures? My point is that I worship the ground that Millie J walks on. This divine woman has created a musical legacy of such rare brilliance that it makes even the most celebrated diva look like an Australian Idol contestant. Few people can claim to have created their own musical sub-genre. Millie J is one of them.
Ms Jackson, no relation to the equally fabulous La Toya, began her career with a string of deep soul albums that put anything Aretha Franklin ever released to shame. Millie J really hit her stride in the mid-70s when she carved out her own unique musical niche by creating a series of concept albums that combined comedy, storytelling and killer tunes. As the 80s dawned, Millie moved moved into dance and even rap! Basically, she has done everything without losing the quality that sets her apart from the crowd - the unnerving ability to connect with the listener by putting herself squarely in their shoes.
I found it difficult to select a Millie album to discuss as a starting point. Her sound has changed so much over the years that no particular phase is very representative of the scope of her musical output. I settled on Millie's 1977 opus, "Feelin' Bitchy", not only because I think it's one of the best albums ever released but also due to the fact that it represents something of bridge between the deep soul sound of her early career and the crazy, camp stylings that mark her later output. Here is a review of the album that I submitted to Amazon:
"Feelin' Bitchy" is the album that started my love affair with Millie Jackson. The first time I listened to it, I wasn't sure whether I liked the music or not - for the simple fact that it was impossible to hear over my laughter. I am still amazed at Millie's unique ability to combine a narrative, raunchy humour and heart breaking tunes. This woman is one of the most original artists ever to pick up a microphone. It is incomprehensible to me that Millie isn't accorded the living legend status she truly deserves.
"Feelin' Bitchy" is a great introduction to Millie's genius. The opening number, "All The Way Lover", pretty much sums up Millie's musical approach. It is a 10 minute orgy of gravely vocals, deep grooves and hilarious love advice. I still laugh every time I hear Millie ranting about women watching too many soap operas and advising men to call it a day and find "a sissy". Her faux orgasm at the end of the song is worth the price of the CD alone.
The joys continue with "Lovin' Your Good Thing Away", a funky warning about sleeping around. The next two songs are two of my favourites. "Angel In Your Arms" is a prime example of Millie's amazing vocal ability and her capacity to lay off the comedy when she needs to. This bitter ballad is followed by Millie answering the phone and talking about a friend's relationship problems. She then approaches the topic from both the female and male perspectives. "A Little Taste Of Outside Love", the female perspective, is Millie at her fiery best. The lyric about "giving a dog its favourite bone" is just too funny. Millie rocks out on "You Created A Monster", the male view on cheating women.
"Cheatin' Is" represents a nice change of pace, with Millie getting reflective about the effect of cheating on marriage and children. The next song, "If You're Not Back In Love By Monday", is irresistible. Millie sings her heart out on this ballad, showcasing her phenomenal range. Of course, with Millie being Millie, she leads into the song with a funny plea for the couple to stay together. The final song, "Feelin' Like A Woman", is Millie's thank you to her own man and an example of a more traditional RnB number.
"Feelin' Bitchy" is one of the few albums that I always listen to from beginning to end. There is not a single mediocre track, let alone a bad one. Buy this record and become an 'all the way lover' of Millie too!
Since writing that review I have listened to this album a couple of hundred more times and I'm still not sick of it. Nobody does it quite like Millie! You can buy the album from Amazon.
For my next dose of Millie, I'm thinking something a bit more trashy. Get ready for some "sexercises" in the near future!