As we drove around during our anniversary last weekend, I played a disc of songs from 1973, the year we got married. Ann Peebles came on, and my wife said that she didn’t realize the song was that old. I’m not sure what it is about ‘I Can’t Stand the Rain” that makes it seem contemporary, but I know what she meant.
When “I Can’t Stand the Rain” came out, Peebles had been turning up on the R&B charts for a few years. She only made the Top Ten once, with “Part Time Love”, which also made #45 on the Billboard Hot 100. “I Can’t Stand the Rain” had the unmistakable sound of Hi Records, which is so closely associated with Al Green, yet I believe Peebles came to Hi even before Green. “Rain” was far and away her biggest hit, and the song she is most associated with. (It only made #38 on the pop charts, which seems unbelievable, since at the time, the song was ever-present on the radio.) It’s easy to make the connection between Peebles and Green, given her big hit, but her pre-Rain albums actually featured a lot of gritty soul. Check out her version of “It’s Your Thing”:
And here’s “99 Pounds”:
You can hear the Hi sound in the horns, but this would fit right in with Stax at its finest.
So, of course, her breakout hit sounded nothing like the above. The Hi Records feel takes over, with the organ, horns, and efficient drumming, while Peebles brings it down a notch. I hadn’t really considered the transition from Stax to Hi before, but Peebles makes it clear. Here is her hit, which she co-wrote (as she did much of her material):
Here she is, 20 years later, revisiting the song for her Full Time Love album:
And finally, the most famous recent song to utilize the original classic: