Appointed "Mother of the Blues" during her '20s heyday, singer Ma Rainey was one of the best of the many classic female blues singers of the period. An inspiration to the "Empress of the Blues," Bessie Smith, Rainey was a Georgia native who was discovered in Chicago during the early '20s. While not the possessor of a voice as powerful as Smith's, Rainey still cut a slew of strong sides featuring a fine blend of country blues intensity and jazz-band sophistication. This excellent Yazoo collection captures Rainey in her prime from 1924-1928. Backed by large combos and minimal guitar and piano tandems, Rainey shines on such highlights as "Booze and Blues," "Shave 'Em Dry," and "Lucky Rock Blues." Topped off with stellar contributions by blues and jazz luminaries like Don Redman, Coleman Hawkins, Kid Ory, and Georgia Tom Dorsey, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom makes for an excellent introduction to blues singer's small but potent catalog.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook