Smith "Collection" Blueprint For Great Music, Tragic Endings
Anthony G Pizza | FL | 10/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Collection" is an outstanding introductory set to Bessie Smith's music and legend and to the basics of blues and pop songwriting.Smith blazed a trail others tragically followed throughout the century: hard-partying, victimized singer (usually female) lays soul bare in the music before dying tragically and mysteriously (Edward Albee's 1959 play and the Band's tribute song "Bessie Smith" play to her legend.) You see the results here in intimate, jazz-tinted blues like "'Taint Nobody's Bizness If I Do," "Empty Bed Blues," "I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle," and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out" (recorded months before 1929's stock market crash). These were truly "alternative" pop songs years before that term; assertive, angry songs a woman sang less than 10 years after women's suffrage (let alone amidst the racism rampant in 1920s society.)These songs and Smith's powerful, wailing vocals are still haunting 70 years later. When, in "Young Woman Blues," Smith sings, "Some people call me a hobo, some people call me a bum/nobody knows my name, nobody knows what I've done," she ironically anticipates the legends of Jimmy Rodgers, Billie Holiday, Hank Williams, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, and two generations' songwriters and musicians whose personal lonliness and pain, musically stated, comforted and saved many after their deaths. The restoration from the original metal and shellac masters is extraordinary, especially considering lesser quality on other titles in Columbia's "Jazz Masters" series. Yet despite this, and legendary help from the era's biggest stars (Louis Armstrong, Jack Teegarden, Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman) it's Bessie Smith's pain and joy-filled vocals, which root all personal expression in popular music, that makes "Collection" musically enjoyable, historically rich, and exceptionally essential."
Sasha | at sea...sailing somewhere | 05/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is absolutely THE place to start listening music of greatest blues singer from 20-es.I was so moved by Bessie's voice that I went on with exploring music of others female singers of her time - Ida Cox,Alberta Hunter,Sippie Wallace,Clara Smith,Victoria Spivey,Mamie Smith... nobody (except lovable Ma Rainey) could come close to great,majestic Bessie Smith who was called "Empress" and there was a reason for it - none of her conterporaries is remember today.Deep,powerful voice of Bessie Smith - reminds strangely of Mahalia Jackson (just one of singers who were influenced by Bessie,others were Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington who even recorded a full album of her songs)- communicates through cracky primitive recordings from 20-es to listener,as none of other blues singers from her time does.This CD has all of Bessie's glorious moments (more than double CD "Essential") and it follows her 10 years in the studio,from her first hit "Downhearted blues" to the last "Gimme A Pigfoot".For everybody who love this,I recommend "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and Rhino collection "Classic Blues Women".There is a nice biography of Bessie Smith by Chris Albertson as well.Can't believe her grave was unmarked until 1970."
A GREAT addition to any quality music collection
Snackaroo | Cleveland, OH United States | 02/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great disc. It is my first disc of old blues crooners and I plan to continue exploring the genre. She has so much SOUL!! The old analog sound gives character to the disc but is not too disracting from the music. You can feel the history in the recording but can easily feel and relate to the emotions that Betty is tellin."