Bessie Smith

Complete Recordings, Vol. 7

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British reissue label Frog Records has undertaken the task of reissuing the complete recordings of Bessie Smith in chronological order, and this installment is the seventh of eight single-disc packages. The series as a whole essentially duplicates Columbia's nine-disc coverage of the same material, so it really comes down to a matter of preference, since Smith's amazing and confident singing shines through in both cases, and the digital transfers are virtually identical. The rare highlight in this volume is a movie soundtrack version of "St. Louis Blues" that clocks in at close to nine minutes in length and features a massive assembled chorus and choir that threaten to completely overtake Smith's lead vocal.

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