Empress of the Blues, Vol, 2: 1926-1933

Empress of the Blues, Vol, 2: 1926-1933

by Bessie SmithBessie Smith


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JSP's Empress of the Blues, Vol.2 might well be the best Bessie Smith collection ever released in any format, for a number of reasons. In addition to the excellent audio remastering which characterizes most of this label's reissuing efforts, the stated time frame of volume two encompasses the last seven years of this amazing woman's recording career. It includes some of the finest sides she ever cut with anybody. Here are her priceless collaborations with pianist James P. Johnson. Their interaction on "Back Water Blues," "Lock and Key," and "Wasted Life Blues" virtually defines the magic of classic blues and jazz. Here are many of Smith's strongest recorded encounters with members of the Fletcher Henderson and Clarence Williams bands. Her famous "St. Louis Blues" film soundtrack is part of this set, as are her last four recordings, cut in November 1933 with a hot jazz band led by pianist Buck Washington. She is roundly supported by trumpeter Frankie Newton, trombonist Jack Teagarden, saxophonist Chu Berry, and (on the rowdy "Gimme a Pigfoot") clarinetist Benny Goodman. All of this would suffice to place this set well among the top Bessie Smith collections. What distinguishes it from most of the rest (including about ten other similarly titled compilations) is the inclusion of 11 bonus tracks that half-fill the fourth disc. Most of them are test pressings; the rest are alternate takes, and these rarities are drawn from various points in her career, all the way back to 1923. They are the rarest Bessie Smith recordings in existence. Each and every one is exceptionally well performed, and the sound quality is as good as it gets. There is no topping this combination of her complete mature works and those previously unreleased tracks which are the "Dead Sea Scrolls" of Bessie Smith appreciation, miraculously rescued from oblivion and appended onto what has got to be the strongest possible choice for anyone interested in this artist and how she articulated the timeless realities of what it can mean to be a woman on this earth.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/27/2008
Label: Jsp Records
UPC: 0788065903022
catalogNumber: 930
Rank: 114178


Disc 1

  1. One and Two Blues
  2. Young Woman's Blues
  3. Preachin' the Blues
  4. Back Water Blues
  5. After You've Gone
  6. Alexander's Rag Time Band
  7. Muddy Waters (Mississippi Moan)
  8. There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight
  9. Trombone Cholly
  10. Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair
  11. Them Graveyard Words
  12. Hot Springs Blues
  13. Sweet Mistreater
  14. Lock and Key
  15. Mean Old Bed Bug Blues
  16. A Good Man Is Hard to Find
  17. Homeless Blues
  18. Looking for My Man Blues
  19. Dyin' by the Hour
  20. Foolish Man Blues
  21. Thinking Blues
  22. Pickpocket Blues
  23. I Used to Be Your Sweet Mama
  24. I'd Rather Be Dead and Buried

Disc 2

  1. Standin' in the Rain
  2. It Won't Be You
  3. Spider Man Blues
  4. Empty Bed Blues, Pt. 1
  5. Empty Bed Blues, Pt. 2
  6. Put It Right in There
  7. Yes Indeed He Do
  8. Devil's Gonna Git You
  9. You Ought to Be Ashamed
  10. Washwoman's Blues
  11. Slow and Easy Man
  12. Poor Man's Blues
  13. Please Help Me Get Him off My Mind
  14. Me and My Gin
  15. I'm Wild About That Thing
  16. You've Got to Give Me Some
  17. Kitchen Man
  18. I've Got What It Takes
  19. Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out
  20. Film Soundtrack "ST. Louis Blues"
  21. Take It Right Back
  22. He's Got Me Goin'
  23. It Makes My Love Come Down

Disc 3

  1. Wasted Life Blues
  2. Dirty No Gooder Blues
  3. Blue Spirit Blues
  4. Worn out Papa Blues
  5. You Don't Understand
  6. Don't Cry Baby
  7. Keep It to Yourself
  8. New Orleans Hop Scop Blues
  9. See If I Care
  10. Baby Have Pity on Me
  11. On Revival Day
  12. Moan Mourners
  13. Hustlin' Dan
  14. Black Mountain Blues
  15. In the House Blues
  16. Long Old Road
  17. Blue Blue
  18. Shipwreck Blues
  19. Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl
  20. Safety Mama
  21. Do Your Duty
  22. Gimme a Pigfoot
  23. Take Me for a Buggy Ride
  24. I'm Down in the Dumps

Disc 4

  1. Lady Luck Blues
  2. Yodelin' Blues
  3. Midnight Blues
  4. St. Louis Gal
  5. Frosty Mornin
  6. Yellow Dog Blues
  7. Soft Pedal
  8. Nashville Women's Blues
  9. Careless Love
  10. Muddy Water (Mississippi Moan)
  11. See If I Care

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bessie Smith   Primary Artist,Vocals
Steve Stevens   Piano
Buster Bailey   Clarinet
Chu Berry   Tenor Saxophone
Benny Goodman   Clarinet
James P. Johnson   Piano
Eddie Lang   Guitar
Jack Teagarden   Trombone
Joe Williams   Trombone
Frankie Newton   Trumpet
Harry Reser   Guitar
Coleman Hawkins   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Tommy Ladnier   Cornet
Ed Allen   Cornet
Louis Armstrong   Cornet
Louis Bacon   Trumpet
Garvin Bushell   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Demas Dean   Cornet
Charlie Dixon   Banjo
Fletcher Henderson   Piano
Porter Grainger   Piano
Jimmy Harrison   Trombone
Jimmy Jones   Piano
Fred Longshaw   Piano
Buck Washington   Piano,Leader
Clarence Williams   Piano
Ernest Elliott   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Abraham Wheat   Clarinet,Soprano Saxophone
Charlie Green   Trombone
Floyd Casey   Drums
Billy Taylor   String Bass
Bob Fuller   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
Irving Johns   Piano
Harry Hull   String Bass
Greely Watson   Tenor Saxophone
Bobby Johnson   Guitar
Kaiser Marshall   Drums
Russell Smith Orchestra   Trumpet
Joe Smith   Cornet
Louisa Metcalfe   Cornet
Johnson, Rosamund & The Hall Johnson Mixed Vocal Choir   Choir, Chorus

Technical Credits

Chris Albertson   Biographical Information
Cyrus St. Clair   Brass Band
Bob Escudero   Brass Band
June Cole Orchestra   Brass Band

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