In the early 80s, Sue Ann Carwell got a lot of ink in Right On! magazine due to her early association with the Prince crew. Her name would be mentioned alongside Andre Cymone and Morris Day as one of the stars of the emerging Minneapolis music scene. I can remember being very curious about Carwell and wondering what she sounded like since I was enamored of all things Prince. Even though Sue Ann was released in 1981 I didn't find my copy until a year ago. Sue Ann arrived at the time Prince was upping the ante with 1981's Controversy. Though Prince, Cymone and Day get thank-yous in the liner notes none of them appeared on Sue Ann. Oddly, no one from the Minneapolis scene appears on Sue Ann. This despite the fact that Carwell and Prince were both signed to Warner Brothers records. As a consequence, Sue Ann does not have the cutting-edge rock/funk/dance sound characteristic of the early 80s Prince and crew. The album was produced and written almost entirely by Pete Bellotte. Bellotte collaborated with Giorgio Moroder on all of Donna Summer's brilliant 70s disco recordings so he certainly had a star-making pedigree. It's no surprise that Sue Ann sounds alot more like post-disco Donna Summer than Prince. Unfortunately, post-disco Donna Summer is not as interesting or innovative as early 80s Prince, so I can understand why this album sank without a trace in 1981. Carwell is an engaging vocalist but Sue Ann's crossover pop, somewhat new wave-ish arrangements wouldn't have fit into any U.S. urban radio format. And at the time Warner Brothers barely knew how to market the great Chaka Khan so Sue Ann didn't stand a chance. Leadoff single "Let Me Let You Rock Me" is one of the better moments and is the only track that sounds even vaguely like a Minneapolis funk track. "My Baby, My" sounds like an outtake from Summer's I'm a Rainbow. Rickie Lee Jones' "Company" gets an emotive vocal that shows Carwell definitely has pipes. She would go on to work closely with Jesse Johnson of The Time on her later solo albums.
Side One Let Me Let You Rock Me I Wanna Be The One Company Close Dance Really Not That Ready
Side Two My Baby, My Don't Treat Me Like A Fool Sweet Talk Heartdreams Don't Throw It All Away