Cyndi Lauper, "Memphis Blues"

77 Billboard Rating

Everyone knows this girl just wants to have fun, but Cyndi Lauper means business on her new album, "Memphis Blues," a guest-studded trip toward Beale Street. And we'll give her a pass for treating Buddy Johnson's "I'm Just Your Fool" more like Chicago than Memphis, especially since Lauper wraps her elastic voice around all 11 tracks with such taste and passion. Allen Toussaint's piano lends gravity to Lowell Fulson's "Shattered Dreams" and Memphis Slim's "Mother Earth," while he and B.B. King team for a slinky take of the Louis Jordan signature "Early in the Morning." Other guests include Ann Peebles, Kenny Brown, Charlie Musselwhite, Jonny Lang and some of Memphis' most credentialed session cats. Only her take of the staple "How Blue Can You Get?" comes off a bit stiff. But Lauper's rustic spin on Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" (featuring Lang) more than makes up for it, and closes "Memphis Blues" on the best possible note.

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