Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers: Everybody’s Talkin’ ‘Bout Miss Thing!

Half Bettie Page (physical), half Dinah Washington (vocal), whole heartbreaker (ugh)-and voted one of the sexiest people of 1999 by Los Angeles magazine-Lavay Smith leads Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers through 16 tracks of big-band cocktail-hour cool on her sophomore effort, Everybody’s Talkin’ ‘Bout Miss Thing! Let’s take care of the cover art first: Dressed in black thigh-high stockings, button-free leopard-print blouse and an about-to-burst bustier, Smith poses cross-legged on a tiki bar and, through obscenely red lips, takes a pull from a tropical drink. But the photo wouldn’t be half as hot if the tunes inside weren’t equally ablaze: All-attitude Smith never fails in firing up her eight-piece backing band-four horns, guitar, piano, bass, and drums-throughout the album’s six originals, several classics and smattering of long-buried gems. Swaggering, brassy opener “The Busy Woman’s Blues” is a six-minute mid-tempo smolder-fest featuring a thoroughly independent Smith purring through solos wailed out by just about every Skillet Licker. “He Beeped Me When He Should Have Bopped” is a clever double-entendre jump blues. And the swinging title track, supplied with a breakneck beat and a lot of wink-wink horseplay, will have you tapping your toes and preparing the cold shower all at the same time.