Robert Crumb

Presents Hot Women Singers

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Cartoonist Robert Crumbhas made no secret of his sometimes borderline-pathological fascination with powerful women, and his equally well documented obsession with music from the first half of the 20th century has led him to not only play and record that music with his own band, but also to amass a huge collection of old 78 rpm records. This compilation is a document of both obsessions. It brings together 24 recordings, mostly from the late '20s and early '30s, of women singers from a variety of warm-climate cultures (hence the album title): Mexico, Cuba, Turkey, Tahiti, Vietnam, Algeria, Brazil, and Chile are all represented, as are many other countries and regions. Although the sound quality rarely rises above mediocre and is occasionally awful, the music itself is an almost constant delight. Highlights include the Greek singer Rita Abadzi's "Mime Stelis Mana Anastin Ameriki" and an eerily lovely field recording of two artists named Hamsa Khalafe (voice) and Ali Atia (some kind of rattle) made somewhere in the Sahara region. On the downside are a so-so flamenco song by La Niña de los Peines (which features what must be the limpest shout of "olé" ever recorded) and the horribly screechy opening track. Overall, though, this is a fascinating collection of material that would be almost impossible to hear anywhere else.

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