Part of the European Document label's giant prewar blues reissue series includes two Trixie Smith CDs that repackage all of her recordings. The second disc is the preferred acquisition, but Vol. 1 is not without interest. The majority of Smith's recordings (particularly in the early days) were vaudeville and pop songs, but on the relatively rare occasions when she sang a lowdown blues, she fared quite well. The first volume starts out with four numbers that are dated either January or March 1922 here, but are probably from September and November 1921. Trixie Smith improved on records as time went on; her first few numbers have rather dated accompaniment. In fact, despite the presence of pianist James P. Johnson (who is well buried on two numbers), her musicians do not get very stimulating until after the first 20 of the 25 numbers. Most notable among the selections are "He May Be Your Man" (which has some familiar lyrics), "My Man Rocks Me" (a song that would be among Trixie's most famous), the heated "Ride Jockey Ride," and a couple of train songs ("Freight Train Blues" and "Choo Choo Blues"), which would become one of her specialties. This is historic music that set the stage for Trixie's later, generally superior performances.
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1922-1924) Review
by Scott Yanow