Various Artists

Texas Girls: Complete Recorded Works 1926-1929

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Texas Girls 1926-1929 is a survey of classic blues records by five different women which was released by Document in 1993. The 24 Okeh, Gennett, Victor, and Columbia sides collected herein constitute a valuable mini-archive of historic recordings, originally waxed in Dallas TX, Richmond IN, Chicago IL, and Memphis TN. Lillian Miller is accompanied on her "Kitchen Blues" by child prodigy pianist Hersal Thomas, and on the rest of her songs by his big brother, composer George W. Thomas along with guitarist Charlie Hill. Pianist Willie Tyson is heard with Hattie Hudson, whose gambling tunes "Black Hand Blues" and "Doggone My Good Luck Soul" are delivered with rock-solid candor. On Gertrude Perkins' "Gold Daddy Blues" and "No Easy Rider Blues," Tyson is joined by guitarist Coley Jones and a fine tuba player named Octave Gaspard. With all due respect to the other artists on this collection, the performances by Hudson and Perkins (tracks six through nine) are exceptionally fine, ranking with the best works of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. Four out of six titles by Ida May Mack (with piano accompaniment by K.D. Johnson) come with previously unissued alternate takes, which essentially provide the listener with an opportunity to experience those songs in six-minute versions. Four of Bobbie Cadillac's five performances are vocal duets with Coley Jones backed by pianist Alex Moore. Her chilling "Carbolic Acid Blues," with dutiful accompaniment by an unidentified piano player, is about two women who fight over the same man; one disfigures the other by hurling a corrosive liquid into her face, and is herself slain by the burn victim. This horrible account fits into a subgenre of sordid blues tunes that describe unspeakably cruel acts, epitomized by Victoria Spivey's organ-accompanied "Turpentine," a tale of death by poisoning. It's a topic that resonates grimly with the presence on this collection of Hersal Thomas, whose sudden demise at the age of 16 is believed to have resulted from a maliciously administered toxic infusion.

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