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13 October 2010 @ 08:21 pm
Bp's Song of the Week #98: Imelda May "Johnny Got a Boom Boom" (live)  
I read about Imelda May in the press ramp up for the Grammy’s earlier this year when she appeared with Jeff Beck during the Les Paul tribute. When I received the CD I gave it a spin and thought she had an interesting voice, but wasn’t that compelled to keep listening to it right away. It wasn’t until a couple of months ago that a good friend, Ray, sent an email to a few folks and while he was just on the cusp of discovering her (he too was introduced by the appearance with Beck) was impressed enough to bring her to our attention:

Her name is Imelda May. She is an amalgamation of rockabilly, roots, and gospel. In a nutshell, after spending just less than an hour watching various YouTube clips of her, I have come to the simple conclusion that she does not suck. I need to spend further time investigating her, her music, her roots…I find her very refreshing, in that she's relatively young (36), but is playing real roots music, does not wear skimpy clothing, and is not just trying to cater to the lowest common denominator. I'm not sayin' she's my favorite. I'm not sayin' she's the best. All I'm sayin' is, Imelda May is now on my radar, and I'd like her to be on yours as well.

He had me at “amalgamation.” A word that I never use, but I love when it is used by others. I’ve loved Ray’s writing since I was in high school and college when he’d snail mail stories of his adventures at Rush shows or in Toronto at the Kumbaya Charity gigs with all the best Canadian musicians. He has a way with words that puts you squarely in his shoes and you can totally identify with angle in which he’s coming from. This tangent has a point, which is that I think his energy and craft have inspired this weekly yattering of mine more than each of us even know. But it was this cautiously apprehensive recommendation (complete with an “I’m not sayin’ she’s the best” out clause) that inspired me to find the CD and put it in my bag to listen to at work. If he was going out of his way to recommend it, then it was worth another look.

That was almost 2 months ago and the disc hasn’t been too far away from a playback device since that time.

“Johnny Got a Boom Boom”


Check out that awesome guitar groove at 0:19. Do I even have to mention the upright bass? Slappin’ out notes that seem so low you can’t even hear them. And Imelda, such command, such sass, such a voice. I love her intonation on the “crawls up from the depths,” “that he had in his grip” and the semi-growling “big vibrations” – just awesome. The rolling drum fills snapping the groove back into place around the 2 minute mark are brilliant.

Oh, did I mention that she wrote 10 of the cuts on her debut release and produced it. What’s not to love?

But, instead of yattering on and on, I’m going to let you discover her the way I did. She should definitely be on your radar.

More Imelda May:
Johnny Got a Boom Boom (live) – outside festival
“Big Bad Handsome Man” (acoustic) / Interview / “Johnny Got a Boom Boom” & “Feel Me”
Love Tattoo
Love Tattoo (live no microphones)
Smoker’s Song