Lucille Bogan

Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1

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A native of Amory, MS who came up in Birmingham AL, Lucille Bogan sang about life as she knew it in a rough and tumble environment that provided her with plenty of material for songs about gambling ("War Time Man Blues," "Roll and Rattler"), the production and peddling of bootleg liquor ("Whiskey Selling Woman"); prostitution ("Tricks Ain't Walking No More"); marijuana ("Pot Hound Blues"); turbulent domestic relationships ("My Man Is Boogan Me," "House Top Blues") and unconventional sexual preferences ("B.D. Woman's Blues," "Women Won't Need No Men"). She sang the blues in a gutsy, honest manner that placed her in league with Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. Back in the 1990s, Document reissued 66 of Bogan's records dating from the years 1923-1935 in a chronological survey that filled three CDs. Volume one opens with "The Pawn Shop Blues," recorded in Atlanta, GA for the Okeh record label in July 1923 with Henry Callens at the piano. Bogan shared material with several of her contemporaries; "Pawn Shop" was also recorded during this period by Martha Copeland, and several of Bogan's earliest efforts competed with versions of the same songs by Gladys Bryant, Lena Wilson, Alberta Hunter, Viola McCoy, and Trixie Smith. Bogan's piano accompanists during this phase of her career included Thomas A. Dorsey, Eddie Heywood, Sr., Eddie Miller, Frank James, and early boogie-woogie innovator Will Ezell, whose affair with Bogan is believed to have contributed to the singer's estrangement from her first husband. On some of the Brunswick dates, she was accompanied by Tampa Red and Cow Cow Davenport. The banjoist heard on "Kind Stella Blues," "Jim Tampa Blues," and "War Time Man Blues" was none other than Papa Charlie Jackson, himself a solid link with Gertrude "Ma" Rainey.