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When R&B great Irma Thomas stepped into the studio to record the unfairly obscure In Between Tears with Jerry Williams, Jr. – AKA Swamp Dogg – it had been a few years since she’d made a record. Williams, of course, had made his rep on a series of quirky blues/soul records that painted him as a serious oddball – a strange match for the traditionalist Thomas. Or so it seems on the surface, but In Between Tears argues differently. Ignoring his devilish side, Williams provides Thomas with a set of superb soul songs and places her singular voice in arrangements that perfectly balance lush horn charts with dry guitar/piano/rhythm section backing. Together, Thomas and Williams take on infidelity from each side with “She’ll Never Be Your Wife” and “What’s So Wrong With You Loving Me,” plead for love’s return in “Turn My World Around,” sneer with bitter defiance in “You’re the Dog (I Do the Barking Myself)” (which also features Duane Allman on guitar) and open a vein on “Wish Someone Would Care.” Already as fine a 70s soul LP as one could ask for, this edition gets even better with the addition of the two sides of her first 45 with Williams, the heartbreaking “We Won’t Be in Your Way Anymore” and the grooving “I’ll Do It All Over You.” How this excellent record has remained under the radar for all but the most dedicated R&B fans is a mystery – maybe Thomas’ rumored distaste for Williams has something to do with it. Regardless, In Between Tears is back, and it’s a shining gem of 70s soul.
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