A Wry Ode to a Singer's Indispensability

Mable John

With her tart, no-nonsense voice, Mable John recorded singles for the Stax label throughout the '60s. hide caption

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Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "Able Mable"
  • Artist: Mable John
  • CD: The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968
  • Genre: Soul

With her tart, no-nonsense voice, Mable John deserved to be a star like her brother Willie, who sang "Fever" before Peggy Lee but landed in jail after he allegedly stabbed a man. But Mable John never quite made it, though it sure wasn't because of her singing. Case in point: "Able Mable," featured in the landmark Stax-Volt: The Complete Singles (1959-1968), a nine-disc set that just became available in full on digital music providers.

"Able Mable," which John co-wrote in 1968, was her true-life nickname — and it's an honest-to-goodness gem. The minor key, the slinky horn riffs and the minimalist piano punctuation give it an edgy groove, while the lyric functions as a wry ode to female indispensability. John could "take a complication, make it a simple situation," as well as trim hair, mend clothes and zero in on a man's weak spot.

Now a pastor and a gospel singer, Mable John recorded other singles on the Stax collection throughout the '60s — including a song with one of the most horrific titles in the history of pop music, "Don't Hit Me No More." But of all her recordings, none sound more powerful, or more able, than this one.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Purchase Featured Music

The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968
Artist
Various Artists

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