Various Artists

Pure Vintage Blues: You Dirty Mistreater

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This installment in the Empress Music Pure Vintage Blues series is a powerful package of classic early female blues and jazz recordings from the 1920s that features Bessie Smith, Clara Smith, Trixie Smith, Victoria Spivey, Hociel Thomas, Sippie Wallace, Alberta Hunter, Bertha Chippie Hill, Leola Coot Grant (with Kid Wesley Wilson), and Clarence Williams' wife Eva Taylor. The inclusion of "Was It a Dream?", a slow genteel waltz sung by Lillie Delk Christian with backing by Louis Armstrong's Hot Four, and a very mannered reading of Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'" sung by crooner Seger Ellis demonstrate the sugary end of the musical spectrum sometimes hinted at by Eva Taylor, but it is difficult not to suspect that the producers inadvertently programmed it this way out of carelessness rather than in the interest of stylistic diversity. The presence of Lillie Delk Christian on any "blues" collection, especially one bearing the subtitle "You Dirty Mistreater", is really somewhat incongruous. At least her upbeat "Too Busy!" (see Pure Vintage Blues: Mining Camp Blues) featured Armstrong's scat singing. "Was It a Dream?" on the other hand, is an endearing 19th century-styled love song that sits pretty oddly among the rest of these gutsy, honest, straightforward blues performances.

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