I have no idea who broke Irma Thomas’ heart, who was the man that betrayed her, who two-timed her and likely left her for another woman, left her with the kids and the bills to pay, but we may want to thank him, for the result is a gut-wrenching record that is almost completely lost and forgotten (Good luck finding it) and at the same time stunning.
In 1969, Thomas fled the New Orleans area after Hurricane Camille wrecked the Gulf Coast, opting for the promising sunshine of West Coast. But instead of the sunny side of life, New Orleans Queen of Soul ended up selling car parts at a Los Angeles Montgomery Ward – a low point of her career before she returned to New Orleans a few years later to regain her throne.
When this album was recorded in 1973, the early, marginal commercial success of songs like “Ruler of My Heart” have vanished, and in this wilderness, a lost, lonely woman pours out her soul and cut her best record. But like much of her early work, the record attracted little attention. But that was our mistake, we missed it. Downhearted, devastated and broken, Thomas openly questions her worth with songs like “What’s So Wrong With You Lovin’ Me.” The record, which Duane Allman shows up for two tracks, is pure pain – a dark lesson in heartbreak. There is no pretend in the record, all of the emotions raw and exposed. All alone, Thomas pleads, screams, wails and shrieks. “I’ve got to have somebody,” as she begs near the end of one song for anyone to hear her pain.
If you ever been cheated on, dumped, had a relationship go sour, this is your record.