April 24th: Carmen McRae – I’m Always Drunk In San Francisco

Carmen McRae’s version of this great Tommy Woolf song first appeared on 1968’s Portrait of Carmen, one of several albums she recorded for Atlantic.  Perhaps inspired by the success of Nancy Wison at Capitol, Atlantic were trying to take Carmen in a more pop/soul direction (albeit with a bit more grit) and, indeed, this song had appeared on Nancy’s Welcome To My Love album the year before. 

Despite the move towards more contemporary material (the album also includes a version of Elusive Butterfly as well as showtunes of the day like Walking Happy and Loads of Love) Carmen’s phrasing retains all its bite and flexibility and her voice is probably at it’s absolute peak here.