Barbara Crosby was born on January 9, 1941 in St. Louis and began singing in church as a choir girl, eventually forming a family gospel group called The Crosby Sisters. She joined a singing/dancing troupe in grade school and went on to sing in the high school choir, around which time she also helped start a singing group called the Comest Combo that played popular material at local clubs. In 1963, she joined a locally popular group called The Petites and met Oliver Sain through her brother-in-law (she adopted her husband's last name, Carr) and successfully auditioned to join Sain's band.
Carr signed a solo contract with Chess in 1966 and recorded soulful singles like "Don't Knock Love," "I Can't Stop Now," and "Think About It Baby" over the next few years. Without much success, she stopped recording for a period in the late '60s to raise her children, and then returned to Chess circa 1970, albeit still without much recognition. She left Sain's band in 1972, and sang with a number of other, mostly short-lived groups around the St. Louis area. Carr recorded another single for Gateway in the late '70s, "Physical Love Affair," but again found little promotional support.
She and her husband eventually formed their own label, Bar-Car, in 1982, and Carr issued a number of singles over the next few years, many recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals studios in Alabama. This material helped form the basis for Carr's first full-length album, 1989's "Good Woman Go Bad", which was later reissued on Paula in 1994. A second collection, "Street Woman", was released on Bar-Car on cassette in 1992, then upgraded to CD in 1994. Word of Carr's recordings began to spread, and she wound up signing with the Ecko label in 1996, releasing her label debut, "Footprints On The Ceiling" in 1997. Her next record, "Bone Me Like You Own Me" solidified her reputation in the Soul Blues world.
After a few more releases on Ecko Carr departed the label releasing a record plaintively titled "On My Own" followed by a forgettable disc for Mardi Gras ("Talk To Me") before returning to Ecko records in 2006. After two more LPs for Ecko she cut one for CDS ("Savvy Woman") in 2009 and her most recent for Catfood, "Keep The Fire Burning", in 2012.
"Good Woman Go Bad" (Bar Car 1989; Paula 1994)
1 Messing With Your
*** Promising debut showcases her tough persona and strong blues voice on straight-up blues cuts like "What's Wrong" and "Good Woman Go Bad". She also cut what has become her signature song, "Not A Word". The rest of the disc is filled out with decent remakes of classics like Aretha Franklin's "See Saw", "Oh What A Price" & "When You Love Somebody".
"Street Woman" (Bar Car 1992)
*** Second album is even better with Carr remaking an old Chess song of hers, "Think About It Baby", and belting out some sturdy blues ("Mr. Big Mouth" & "That's Why I'm Gonna Leave You") & southern soul ("You've Been Doing Wrong So Long"). The title track is the best Denise LaSalle song that Denise never wrote!
"Footprints On The Ceiling" (Ecko 1997)
1. Good Looks Can Get Him But It
Takes Good Lovin' to Keep Him Home
**** Rollicking party blues album from this throaty blues belter. John Ward and company provide Carr with some good, sassy soul blues material in the Denise LaSalle vein, such as the cheeky "If You Can't Cut The Mustard (I Don't Want You Licking Around The Jar)", "The Bo Hawk Grind" & "Good Looks Can Get Him But It Takes Good Lovin' To Keep Him Home". Carr also shows her softer side on "Make Me Feel Like Like You Feel It Too" & "God Blessed Our Love", but it's juke joint jumpers like "We're Gonna Boogie" where Carr really shines.
"Bone Me Like You Own Me" (Ecko 1998)
1. Long on Talk, Short on Love
**** Once again Carr is tough-as-nails on this hard-hitting soul blues platter. This time she's raunchy too. "Bone Me Like You Own Me", "Long On Talk, Short On Love", "Show Me No Mercy" & "If The Lord Keeps The Thought Of You Out Of My Head Than I'll Keep Your Booty Out Of My Bed" need no explaining. "Not A Word" gets remade here as a duet with Bill Coday. "Juke Joint Jumpin'" lives up to it's title. The production on this and all Ecko releases is superb.
"What A Woman Wants" (Ecko 1999)
1. If I Don't Holler
*** Barbara knows what she wants and isn't afraid to say what it is as evidenced on her third Ecko cd. With song titles like "A Woman Always Gets Her Way", "Got My Name On Your Thang" & "Let A Real Woman Try" you know Carr ain't a woman to be trifled with. Her great blues "Good Woman Go Bad" is redone here too as is a passable version of the McKinley Mitchell classic "Rainbow". 3 in-a-row for Carr and Ecko.
"Stroke It" (Ecko 2000)
1. Good With Your Hips
*** There's more dance tracks added to the usual mix of sex-charged jukin' blues. "Hoochie Dance", "Stroke It" & "Good With Your Hips" are all aimed at the feet (and booty I presume). There's still some of the tough gal shtick here via "I Love Him With A Feeling", "A Woman Can Take It And She Can Dish It Out" & "A Good Woman Ain't Got Time For No Cheating Man". She also tips the men off on how to get their due ("Give A Woman What She Wants"..and she'll give your everything you need.).
"The Best Woman" (Ecko 2001)
1. Best Woman Won, The
** 1/2 Final album for Ecko shows there's still plenty of gas left in the tank. Highlights include the great dancer "Shont Dont Dont", juke joint soul blues "I've Been Partying At The Hole In The Wall" & the title cut where Carr consoles a woman she beat out for a man
"The Best Of Barbara Carr" (Ecko 2002)
1. Bone Me Like You Own Me
***** The cream of the crop from her five Ecko releases. TRACKS: Bone Me Like You Own Me/If You Can't Cut The Mustard/Hoochie Dance/Right Kind Of Love/Bo Hawg Ground/I've Been Partying At The Hole In The Wall/Let A Real Woman Try/The Best Woman/Juke Joint Jumpin'/Good Looks Can Get Him But It Takes Good Lovin' To Keep Him Home/Make Me Feel It Like You Feel It To/As Long As You Were Cheating/If The Lord Keeps The Thought Of You Out Of Head I'll Keep Your Booty Out Of My Bed/Footprints On The Ceiling
"On My Own" (Bar Car 2002)
1. Not a Word
*** Independent release takes 6 cuts from her 1992 album "Street Woman" and adds 6 new cuts. Of the new cuts the mildly funky "Love Thang", "Take Care Of Your Own Business" & "You Take Away My Blues" are distinguished.
"Talk To Me" (Mardi Gras 2003)
1. Talk to Me
** The monotonous Mardi Gras programming is not well-suited for Carr's ballsy blues voice. Although Carr can sing dance music she is better served with bluesier material. The sultry "Drop It Like It's Hot" could have been sung by anybody but ""If You Can't Cut The Mustard (I Don't Want You Licking Around The Jar)" from her Ecko days cannot- it takes a singer of the caliber of Carr to pull it off. The only thing that saves this from disaster is Carr's singing.
"Down Low Brother" (Ecko 2006)
1. You've Got to Right the Wrong
**** Barbara Carr took that tough, sassy, sexually-aggressive gal persona of Koko Taylor to the extreme in the 90s. Recording for Ecko Records she released songs with titles like "Bone Me Like You Own Me", "If You Can't Cut The Mustard (I Don't Want You Licking Around The Jar)" & "A Good Woman Can Take It And She Can Dish It Out". Able to belt out downhome party blues & Southern Soul dancers equally, Carr had a winning formula going until she left the label for a few years and released a couple forgettable records. Well, now Barb is back where she belongs and has picked up right where she left off with "Down Low Brother". There's hard blues stompers (ala "Bo Hawk Grind") like "You Gonna Mess Around And Get Bit by My Dog Trying To Get To My Cat" (yep, that's the title) & "Ain't Nothing In The Streets That You Can't Get At Home". Upbeat shuffle bumpers like "You've Got To Right The Wrong" & "You're A Liar" (the latter is actually a pale imitation of Quinn Golden's "Wake Up Call" which was already a rip on his own "I'm Gonna be A Man About It"!). There's a jubilant entry for the Carolina Beach crowd in "Y'all Know How To Party". This finger snappin' dancer incorporates Sam Cooke's "Havin' A Party" for another shaggin' soundtrack. Plus, there's some good ole' Soul singing from Carr. She once again shows the character of her voice on "Down Low Brother" (That dang "Bill" is at it again!), "Freedom" & the superb "Just Be A Woman About It". Blues snobs will be happy to note that other than the requisite synth horns/strings there's less programming here than usual. The live instrumentation gives the tracks larger mainstream appeal. Welcome back Barbara!
"It's My Time" (Ecko 2007)
1. While You Was out Playing Jody
"Time" opens with another chapter in the genre's "Jody" saga. Originally, the name was military slang first recorded in the Assyrian army about 2,500 years BC. "Jody" was the draft-dodging wimp who was dating your girlfriend, eating your mama's home cooking and petting your dog while you were in Vietnam. These days "he" or "she" basically refers to one who "services the improperly serviced" in the bedroom. Well, Carr hips her lover that "While You Was Out Playing Jody" she was a Jodette. The cut is a retread of "Y'all Know How To Party" from her last record that will only hit if folks aren't tired of the cheating theme (not likely). "A Woman can Take And She Can Dish It Out" is another repeat from a past Ecko album while "This Is The Party" (Rick Lawson) and the gender-switched "I'm Just A Lucky Girl" (Quinn Golden) were already mastered by others for the label.
Of the tracks that you may need: Billy "Soul" Bonds mega-hit "Scat Cat, Here Kitty Kitty" is having an extended run thanks to Carr's "answer" version here, although the song is nearly identical. The juke joint jumpin Soul Blues "It Sho Was Me At The Hole In The Wall" is a definite keeper while Carr's vocal on "Love Triangle" has some grit. A tepid take on Ann Peebles' "I Can't Stand The Rain" rounds out this middling disc.
"Savvy Woman" (CDS 2009)
1. Savvy Woman
*** Carr's new album was produced by Roy Roberts (3 tracks) and Clarence Dobbins (6 tracks) featuring all live musicians (sans the final track, a machine-created Southern Soul throwaway "Blue Collar Man") and finds Carr in various styles from Beachy Soul ("Savvy Woman", "Tonight Your Love Belongs To Me"), hard Blues shuffles ("Number 2", "How Long"), Atlantic Records 60s era ballads ("After She's Gone"), Staxy R&B ("Don't Put The Cart Before The Horse") and midtempo Memphis Soul ("The Heart You Break", "It's Only You"). Roberts shares co-leads vocals on two tracks.
Barbara Carr & Uvee Hayes "Southern Soul Blues Sisters" (Aviara Music 2009)
Let Our Love Slip Away - (featuring Roy Roberts)
"The Best Of Barbara Carr, Volume 2" (Ecko 2011)
1. We're Gonna Boogie
Roy Roberts Johnny Rawls Barbara Carr "Three Pair" (Ocean Beach 2012)
1 Don't Let Our Love Slip Away
"Keep The Fire Burning" (Catfood 2012)
1. Hanging By a Thread
"Savvy Woman: Deluxe Edition" (CDS 2017)
1 It’s Only You