Like other volumes in LaserLight's 20-album American Legends series, the Bessie Smith disc presents a miscellaneous collection of tracks with next-to-nothing in the way of annotation. Smith's catalog is controlled by Columbia Records, which seems to be the source for the 12 performances here, but they have been licensed from Rod McKuen's Stanyan Records and are attributed to "the collection of T. Richard Williams." In any case, such tracks as "'Tain't Nobody's Business" and "St. Louis Blues" are among Smith's classics, and at a $9.98 list price, it should be possible to obtain this album for much less than any of the Columbia/Legacy box sets. But for that you're only getting a taste of what is best experienced as a sumptuous meal.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann