Various Artists

Fattenin' Frogs for Snakes: Essential Blues

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Essential collections of early female blues vocalists are rare, and considering the time frame (1920s and 1930s), the original sessions here are not well recorded or preserved. Of the 24 songs on this set, most sound dingy and distant, but very much worth listening to and playing louder to hear their depth. This compilation includes definitive classics like Ma Rainey's "See See Rider Blues," Ida Cox's "How Long Daddy, How Long," Chippie Hill's "Trouble in Mind," and Lil Green's "Romance in the Dark." There are two numbers each from all-time great Bessie Smith and lesser-knowns Georgia White and Lucille Bogan; one each from legends Alberta Hunter, Sippie Wallace, and Victoria Spivey; and two from Dinah Washington's early days. It's a well-constructed cross section of vintage singers, and is recommended for those who want a first taste of hearing where all contemporary popular music's roots are drawn from.

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