Bessie Smith

Empress of the Blues, Vol. 3 [Italy]

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Bessie Smith recorded 160 sides for Columbia and OKeh Records between 1923 and 1933, a legacy that is impressive in its scope and vitality, and only Smith's death in a car accident in 1937 kept her from the rediscovery comeback that would have surely added to her achievements. Italy's Universe Records, a Comet Records imprint, released a three-disc box set of Smith's work in 2004, and in 2006 the three discs were released as individual volumes, of which this is the third and last. Listeners looking for a sampling of Smith's style and range will certainly find that here, and this set contains one of her best performances and biggest hits, 1929's "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," but there is really no reason not to stick with Columbia's own remastered versions of Smith's complete recorded output, which the label has released in five two-disc boxes with the best possible restorative sound.

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