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Essential Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith
Essential Bessie Smith
Genres: Blues, Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #2

Bessie Smith was crowned the Empress of the Blues, and, while this moniker was well deserved, she was much more. A prolific recording artist, Smith was quite an eclectic performer. In fact, she may have been one of the fir...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Bessie Smith
Title: Essential Bessie Smith
Members Wishing: 5
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sony
Original Release Date: 9/23/1997
Release Date: 9/23/1997
Genres: Blues, Jazz, Pop
Styles: Vocal Blues, Traditional Blues, Traditional Jazz & Ragtime, Vocal Jazz, Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 074646492222, 5099748739896

Synopsis essential recording
Bessie Smith was crowned the Empress of the Blues, and, while this moniker was well deserved, she was much more. A prolific recording artist, Smith was quite an eclectic performer. In fact, she may have been one of the first true crossover artists. This neat two-disc set gives the listener a good sampling of her wide repertoire. Smith is backed up by some of the best jazz musicians of her era. Her rendition of "St Louis Blues" for example, features the horn work of a young Louis Armstrong. Smith was not above doing such suggestive material as "Kitchen Man" or "Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl" and could breath new life into a pop chestnut like "Alexander's Ragtime Band." And when Smith sang "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," she knew what she was talking about. The title of this album says it all. --Lars Gandil

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CD Reviews

Some essential songs are missing!
Sasha | at sea...sailing somewhere | 11/22/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Whoever decided to make this compilation, for some reason has left some of the most important Bessie Smith songs out!How can this be essential without her first hit "Downhearted blues" and such a gems as "Empty Bed Blues" or "My Sweetie Went Away"? Sound strange, but single CD titled "Colection" offers much better overview of her career than this double, 36 track collection! If you still want to purchase this, what remained in this CD are beautiful and moving songs recorded between 1923 and 1933, all of them glowing with Bessie Smith passion.The liner notes are written by her biographer Chris Albertson who find interesting comparation between her and todays rappers (mentality, not music wise!).To understand her art, its neccesary to listen great Ma Rainey who started singing the blues first and even teach young Bessie some tricks.While Ma Rainey style was more country blues (she had a raugh voice, highly emotional but not pretty as Bessie), Bessie was more concentrated on city audience and if death didnt stop her in a car crash, she would probably continued to work in swing era.Her passion is very similar to one of Mahalia Jackson and Im sure that Im not the only one who feels that blues and gospel are very close not only in music but in emotional involment as well - to feel both types of music listener has to feel something inside.There are two great albums recorded as tribute to Bessie Smith, by Dinah Washington and LaVern Baker, both highly reccomended - I heard them first and then wanted to hear the originals, but you may try the other way around!"
The Empress Lives On!!!!!
Jr Green | Oxon Hill, Maryland | 08/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was watching tv one late night and stumbled across the short 1929 Movie St. Louis Blues starring Bessie Smith now im a 24 year old guy who is into all the lastest music but this lady sung a song called st. Louis Blues and i was watching the screen going who is this she her voice full of passion and pain and then i found how she died in a tragic car accident i was hurt bessie smith was she was really doing the da%mn back in the 1920's so if you wanna know where the r&b of today got its drama filled lyrics check out the empress of the blues she will not leave you disapointed"
Sugar in my bowl
Shane | New Zealand | 01/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Bessie Smith had one of the most powerfull, expressive and recognizable voices of the 20th Century. Her talent as a vocalist in the studio, as well as her stage performance made her a star that changed the way of music forever. This collection of 36 Bessie's classic recordings is simply one of the best, and most comprehensive collections of her work. It is, as other reviewers said, surely missing a handful of records that could also be considered Essential, but this collection never-the-less, hits the spot for any casucal fan or even the most avid devourer of Bessie Smith's music. The 2 Disc set is Essential Bessie, and also, Essential - period.