It’s been a long time since we rock ‘n’ rolled! Ten years to be exact when considering Ruby Ann’s seminal record, Mama’s Back. Celebrating a decade in existence, parent company Rhythm Bomb Records, saluting their own milestone of twenty years in business, is affording special treatment to a “bestselling” album by issuing Mama’s Back on vinyl. Released on wax for the first time therefore, Mama’s Back lives up to its title and gets a chance to do it all again in 2023.
Deserving of such attention, and not only for its previous sales figures generating mindboggling statistics at the end of the financial year, no, more importantly because of the critical acclaim Mama’s Back received upon its initial release in the UK and Europe for its contents of innovative renditions of vintage period songs, and with a smattering of original compositions as well.
When experiencing Mama’s Back for the first time, it transports the listener to a land and time that aficionados of the golden years of music (namely the 50s) never forgot but, unfortunately, never had the opportunity to witness first-hand either. Step forward Ruby Ann and her interpretation of a landmark period in the history of music by reproducing an authentic 50s sound, but also stamping her own personality throughout Mama’s Back. A large part of her authority is contained and demonstrated by a voice that is lined in silver and gold, and with comparisons made with several of the pioneers of rockabilly and associated female rockers with, most conspicuously, Wanda Jackson.
With plenty of fire in the belly as illustrated by many of the tracks chalked up on Mama’s Back, it is often a full-blooded and gutsy affair. A confident record, and one that, despite serious setbacks on the road to seeking a lasting connection with the opposite sex, it knows what it desires. The song titles alone provide plenty of clues as to the Heartbreak Hotel here, but in reply, Mama’s Back is not a self-pitying cry, nor is it weak to the touch because it’s never unwitting to the experiences unfurling. In fact, it can be defiant, a record that’s not afraid to move on and seek fresh experiences as indicated by the Elvis inspired, and Eddie Bush penned, ‘Baby I Don’t Care’, to glimmer of hope via noirish edge generated by the instruments of ‘Your Mama’s Here’, before finding solace during a souped-up reading of Lance Roberts’ ‘I’m Gonna Have Myself A Ball’.
The omission of four tracks from the original album release, does not diminish the overall quality and listening experience of Mama’s Back. By formatting the track list to vinyl, the ten songs scrutinised and selected for their inclusion, provides an even closer insight to the melancholy at the heart of this record.
With experienced hands-on deck including Axel Praefcke (production) contributing ‘Knocked Out, No Love’, and additional drums/guitars, Mama’s Back was recorded at Lightning Recorders (Berlin) with rest of assembled cast of Carsten Harbeck (Bass), Ike Stoye (Guitar/Piano), Michael Kirscht (Lead Guitar), and Round Up Boys (Backing Vocals). Despite a successful working relationship, Mama’s Back is, and remains, Ruby Ann’s record because of the presence she exerts over this album by injecting its contents with a sincerity, and therefore giving the impression of these songs as entirely her own creations. Remarkable! And, even now, Mama’s Back still resonates with a fiery passion that renders it a thoroughly compelling listen and one that refuses to be ignored as it hollers, “Mama’s Back!”.
Nathan Olsen-Haines (Rhythm Bomb Records)
A01 - Ruby Ann - Call His Name (Christine Kittrell)
A02 - Ruby Ann - Knocked Out No Love (Axel Praefcke)
A03 - Ruby Ann - Mad Mama (Jane Bowman)
A04 - Ruby Ann - Your Mamas Here (Colleen Frazier)
A05 - Ruby Ann - Do Right Mama (Carl Gillion)
B01 - Ruby Ann - Baby I Don´t Care (Eddie Bush)
B02 - Ruby Ann - I´ll Never Get Rich (Darrell Stadtler)
B03 - Ruby Ann - I´m Gonna Have Myself A Ball (Lance Roberts)
B04 - Ruby Ann - I´ve Heard That Line Before (Lawrence/Strickland)
B05 - Ruby Ann - Many Tears Ago (Winfield Scott)