I Wanna Be Evil (with Love to Eartha Kitt)
Singer Rene Marie claims that I Wanna Be Evil is the first album tribute to Eartha Kitt. That seems hard to believe—but based on these performances rendered by Marie, it'd seem inadvisable to contradict her (at least to her face). Featuring her working trio and a guest horn section of trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, saxophonist Adrian Cunningham, and trumpeter Etienne Charles, the first track sets an it’s-good-to-be-bad tone with “I’d Rather Be Burned as a Witch” and carries on through the upbeat title track, which packs the wallop of an 11 o’clock number. Sensuality, another Kitt trademark, simmers throughout with “Peel Me a Grape” and a rhythmic percussion and voice arrangement of “Come On-a My House.” The rumba-like “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” brings things to a boil. It leads one to wonder about the war that must have raged inside this former Jehovah’s Witness to repress these urges; she didn't launch her singing career until her mid-40s. Rene Marie has made up for lost time with a steady stream of excellent albums, yet this is a breakthrough.