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Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe 1
Memphis Minnie, Kansas Joe
Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe 1
Genres: Blues, Pop, R&B
  •  Track Listings (23) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Memphis Minnie, Kansas Joe
Title: Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe 1
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Document
Original Release Date: 1/1/2029
Re-Release Date: 11/14/2000
Genres: Blues, Pop, R&B
Styles: Chicago Blues, Vocal Blues, Traditional Blues, Regional Blues, Memphis Blues, Acoustic Blues, Classic R&B, Soul
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 182478053327, 714298502824, 788518502826

CD Reviews

Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe
Robin Friedman | Washington, D.C. United States | 06/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The great blues singer and guitarist Memphis Minnie (1897 --1973)was born Lizzie Douglas in Algiers, Louisiana and had a recording career spanning nearly 30 years. Many listeners who love the blues rate her the greatest of the female blues singers. She certainly ranks with the better-known "classical" women blues singers, Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. Memphis Minnie was a guitarist as well as a singer and she initially made her mark as a country blues singer -- somewhat after the more urbane, vaudeville-oriented blues of Smith and Rainey had captured public attention. Female country blues singers were a rarity, and Minnie was a tough woman. In the late mid-30's, Memphis Minnie moved to Chicago and was instrumental in the development of urban blues.

This CD on Document includes the first 23 of Memphis Minnie's many recordings, dating from June 18, 1929 -- May 29, 1930. The Document label has performed the great service of recording nearly all extant early blues and roots music. Minnie's partner on this CD is the singer and guitarist Kansas Joe (Joe McCoy). McCoy was Memphis Minnie's second husband, and the two of them were discovered singing on the streets in Memphis and signed to a recording contract. Minnie and Joe sang together until 1935 when they went their separate ways.

The sound on this recording is mostly good but scratchy in places. It is entirely acceptable given the ages of the original pressings and the conditions under which they were made and stored.

Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe both play a driving, forward-thrusting acoustic guitar. Minnie's voice is expressive, rough-hewn, and gritty with a real twang. Joe's voice is smoother.

The highlight of this CD is the three versions of Minnie's early signature song, "Bumble Bee". This song, with its double-entendre lyrics became successful in its many renditions and was later covered by Muddy Waters under the title "Honey Bee".
The earliest version (track 3), is my favorite of the three. It is uptempo and features prominent guitar work underlying Minnie's vocals. The second version (track 13) is slower with a draggy feeling. The final version on this CD, "Bumble Bee Blues" was recorded with the Memphis Jug Band and features a wailing harmonica together with the guitar and vocals. The listener can learn much about early country blues styles by comparing these versions of "Bumble Bee".

Kansas Joe's finest momement on this disk is in his singing and playing of "When the Levee Breaks' (track no. 5) This song too has become a blues classic and has been covered by Led Zepplin.

The other tracks on this CD I enjoyed include the duet "What Fault you find in me" (nos 10-11) and Minnie's "Meningitis Blues (no. 18) accompanied again with the Jug Band and harmonica.

This CD will have the greatest appeal to those listeners who already have a strong background and interest in the early blues and in America's heritage of "roots" music. There are four volumes of Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe available on Document. Those with a passion for Memphis Minnie might also consider a five-CD set on another label which includes the entire recorded output of Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe, but sell for less that twice the price of a single Document CD.