Various Artists

...First Came Memphis Minnie

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This set has been announced as Maria Muldaur's 40th album, which it is, since she conceived of it and produced it, but it's actually a tribute to the guitar-playing blues great Memphis Minnie, and several of the tracks that Muldaur sings on here have been previously released, including previously released tracks of Memphis Minnie songs that Muldaur cut with Alvin Youngblood Hart, Del Rey, Roy Rogers, and Steve James. There are also classic tracks from Phoebe Snow and Koko Taylor included, again previously released, along with new recordings for this tribute done by Bonnie Raitt, Rory Block, and Ruthie Foster. So, it's not like this is a new Maria Muldaur album, but then it's Muldaur's baby, a loving tribute to a one-of-a-kind blues artist. Muldaur has been singing Memphis Minnie songs (and Minnie wrote or adapted over 200 songs throughout her career, which lasted from the 1920s until the mid-'50s) since her career began in the 1960s, including Muldaur's signature take on "Tricks Ain't Walkin'" (the song was actually written by Lucille Bogan, but Minnie made it her own, as she did everything she touched), included here in a version with Del Rey and Dave Earl helping out on guitar and mandolin, respectively. There's nothing fancy here -- the productions are sparse and appropriate, and even though tracks came from different sources and directions, they all fall together into a nice flow.

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