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Soul Express CD Review

Ann Hines: Man Hunt

From Soul Express 5/1993


Ann has come up with her own debut album, and as usual with debutantes we’ll try to get to know them a little bit better.

  The album carries a curious title, Man Hunt (Platinum Blue, PB 4102D), especially considering that there's no such track on display. “The title comes from a girl that's searching for that right, special guy.”

  The whole thing is produced and written by Homer Banks and Lester Snell, and this in fact is their first Platinum Blue album after J. Blackfoot’s Loveaholic in '91, on which Ann had a duet with J. aka John Colbert on a ballad, Just One Lifetime.  By the way J. has also had a new PB album out for quite awhile now, but we'll get back to that more in detail in our next issue.

  Man Hunt opens with a swaying soul ballad, Friendship, which J. and Ann also have done earlier on John's U-Turn album in '87, and here they are helped by another ex-Soul Children member, Norman West. I must admit that there’s a certain fascinating contrariness between J’s rough and Ann’s almost fragile handling of the song.

  Sad Company is the only uptempo cut with a slight Caribbean beat, otherwise it's all ballads. There are light and a little misty tunes (Pictures, Give Me Back My Heart, Oll Habits), MORish ones with catchy pop quality (A Lover Is Born, If I Didn't Feel This Way and a poignant Separate Ways, my own favorite) and Let’s Do It, a very whispery ballad with a thin sound not unlike what they used to do in New Jersey in the 70's (All Platinum etc.); in fact, the track reminds me of something that Sylvia might have done. This, by the way, is Ann’s own favorite track on the album.

  Man Hunt is a nice and relaxing entity, but very much on the ‘quiet fire’ side. I could have done with a little grittier touch. Was this deliberately? “Yes, I'm a girl from the South, but my texture is different. That's why when I went in to do the recording they said 'well, you're different, you're the girl with the northern voice, but you're from the South'.”

  That was the product, then the artist.

  “I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1956 and I've been living down South all my life. I started singing at the age of five just around the house, then I entered a talent contest when I was twelve, and I won the contest. Professionally I've done tours and worked with a lot of people. I've done a lot of background work for Lynn White, Bobby Womack, Mavis Staples, Al Green, Randy Brown and a lot of local talents here.

 I sang with a local group here in Memphis, Tennessee, called Spirit With Pazazz, and we toured all over in Europe, London and many cities in Germany on tour for military at the time.

  My maiden name is Ann Swanigan. I was married but I'm divorced now. I have two beautiful daughters, Tia (22) and Stephanie (13), and both my daughters sing but they are not doing it professionally. My oldest daughter, who’s in college now, recorded about four years ago with Megajam Records a background track for Chris McDaniels. And I have cousins, Rufus and Carla Thomas.”

  So where does this present team-work derive from?

  "I met Homer Banks first through J. Blackfoot when he was with Soundtown Records.  Homer had another partner, Chuck Brooks. Chuck and he went their separate ways, closed Soundtown down and that's when Homer and Lester teamed up, and that's when I met Lester.

  I recorded my first single called Tearjerker in '87 with Homer Banks and Lester Snell, and then we came back for Just One Lifetime with J. Blackfoot in '91."

  But wasn't Tearjerker (on Edge Records) credited as J. Blackfoot featuring Ann Hines?

  “Yeah, but I recorded the song, it was my song and Blackfoot sang background with me, but they just labelled it under Blackfoot.”

  Lady’s own favorites are Dionne Warwick, Roberta Flack, Gladys Knight and Phyllis Hyman. What about the future, then?

  “I'm getting ready now to start opening up the show for J. Blackfoot, but I will be going on my own. Hopefully this album will do pretty well and I'll be back in the studio sometime next year recording another one. And I wanna come back over to Europe.”

  So, let's wish all the luck to our lovely Ann (I also fell in love with her voice, you see), who seems to be very busy, because she already had lined up tours and gigs with Marvin Sease, Bobby Bland, The Dramatics, The Dells and Bobby Rush.

-Heikki Suosalo

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