Millie Jackson Caught Up/Still Caught Up

Jackson first attracted attention with these two albums, originally released in 1974 and 75. Both are concept albums, dealing with a love triangle. Millie, at different times, plays both female roles: wife and mistress. She was renowned in her day for being filthy — way back when Prince was still in sequinned purple diapers — ably mixing both the spiritual and sensual components of getting nasty. The language is pretty tame by current standards, but the ideas that she explores are still fairly brazen. She’s raw, honest, horny, forthright, and above all, unapologetic about what she wants. But there’s a lot more than smut to make this deserving of your attention. Her vocals are rough and edgy, right up there with James Brown, Al Green, Otis Redding and Etta James for funk and vitality. The backing, by the Muscle Shoals house band, is a hard-edged swampy R&B, perfectly suited to the visceral emotions of the lyrics. Raps, not rapping — though there is a lot of hip-hop groundwork laid here — link the tracks, and this offers no respite from the emotional onslaught. The disc opens with a tour de force 11-minute version of Luther Ingram’s “(If Loving Is You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right.” “It’s All Over But The Shouting” and “The Memory Of A Wife” are tough-edged funk with a fatback beat. “Loving Arms” is a tasty Dobie Gray cover and “You Can’t Stand The Thought of Another Me” could be one of Gamble & Huff’s best. The woman even makes Bobby Goldsboro’s “Summer (The First Time)” palatable. Who the hell else has ever done that? (Hip-O)