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Bessie Smith: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1
Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1
Genres: Blues, Jazz, Pop
 
Bessie Smith wasn't the first of the classic blues singers to record, but once she did, she became the form's dominant force, with a voice that combined clear diction, great power, and a unique capacity to convey complex e...  more »

      
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All Artists: Bessie Smith
Title: Bessie Smith: The Complete Recordings, Vol. 1
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sony
Original Release Date: 4/9/1991
Release Date: 4/9/1991
Album Type: Box set
Genres: Blues, Jazz, Pop
Styles: Vocal Blues, Traditional Blues, Traditional Jazz & Ragtime
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 074644709124, 074644709117, 074644709148, 871215508625, 007464470912

Synopsis

Amazon.com
Bessie Smith wasn't the first of the classic blues singers to record, but once she did, she became the form's dominant force, with a voice that combined clear diction, great power, and a unique capacity to convey complex emotions. Weariness gives way to resilience and sorrow to joyous triumph in Smith's performances, and there's nobility in her delivery of even the sometimes tritely comic lyrics she sang. This is the first of five two-CD sets that gather all her known recordings. The first 38 songs, from February 1923 to April 1924, are here. Smith was a presence when she first arrived in the studio: "Downhearted Blues," her first record and already a hit for its composer, Alberta Hunter, would sell nearly 800,000 copies in its first six months of release. It's a riveting performance, but there's greater substance just a couple of months later in the bending notes of "Oh Daddy Blues." There are many majestic performances here, with Smith usually accompanied by just piano, played by songwriter Clarence Williams, her working accompanist Irving Johns, or Fletcher Henderson. When her accompaniments begin to expand, Don Redman makes an appearance on clarinet, but the great band recordings with Louis Armstrong remain in the future. The liner notes, by Smith's biographer, Chris Albertson, are excellent, filled with illuminating background and details of Smith's career during her first year of fame. --Stuart Broomer

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CD Reviews

Smooth yet rough, classic blues
J. B. Barton | Saint Petersburg, FL | 10/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Listening to this CD set is like sitting in one of those smoke filled blues bars on in an old, old movie. I first heard Bessie Smith on a small town blues radio program - you know, one of those stations that gave an hour or two to different kinds of music, so the jockeys for the particular genre really know their stuff. Her voice really stood out from all the rest. It is smooth like Ella Fitzgerald but sorrowful and knowing. I am an Ella fan too, but Bessie has more IN her voice. I would love to have heard her sing some gospel because you can hear the pure power in her voice without her every really using it. It is like a deep river running slowly.The sound quality of the recording is ... well, have you ever listened to vinyl? It is like that, sort of. You can tell it is old. For me, though, that just adds to its charm. The accompanyment(sp?) is piano - no blaring horns or anything like that. This is slow, classic blues."
The Undisputed Queen of the Blues
R. Cousineau | New York USA | 08/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The blues is not just a musical genre,some of the artists who have made this particular kind of music are without a doubt some of the most gifted performers of all time.Bessie Smith is such an individual and she was not without peer but certainly she was one of the best voices this genre(or any genre really)had to offer.These sides sound great and the transfers are of the highest quality allowing the listener to hear the emotion she sang with.
This first set is the cream of the recordings she made...just voice and piano.I still think that when you want to showcase the peformer that this is how you do it....no tricks.Her phrasing and delivery are what sets her apart from the rest.If you have this already,then buy it for somebody you know that loves the blues.If you don`t own it,take a chance and you to will be amazed by this singular talent - Bessie Smith is where all roads lead to."
Not Enough Supurlatives To Describe It
David A. Naess | Rochester, NY United States | 09/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In my opinion Bessie Smith was not only one of the first, but the
best. Bessie Smith blazed the trail which was followed by all of
the great female blues singers.This complete set illustrates that ALL of her recordings became
part of the foundation upon which the genre was built.I only have one regret. I bought the set on cassettes before I
had a CD player! A problem that I plan to resolve in the very
near future."