Various Artists

Wild About That Thang - Ladies Sing the Blues

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The high rating for this compilation of Chicago blues women comes not from its star power -- clearly Koko Taylor is missing, at the very least -- but for its sheer power and the consistent quality of its performances. Assembled as part of Delmark's 50th Anniversary celebration, Wild About That Thang contains 13 burning tracks from the marginal -- Mary Johnson with the Dixie Stompers in two previously unissued performances from 1955 -- to the legendary -- Dinah Washington from 1945, with a Delmark recording featuring Charles Mingus, Lucky Thompson, and Milt Jackson in the band -- and everything in between. Thematically and stylistically, this set covers all the bases as well, from the hardcore electric Chicago blues on Big Time Sarah's "Long Tall Daddy," to the risqué, low-key, jazz blues of Blue Lu Barker's "Don't You Feel My Leg," and the bawdy Dixieland swing of Katherine Davis' version of the title track. But the single greatest accomplishment of this comp is how much it showcases current and recent blues singers form the Windy City. We might never have heard of the neo-trad high styles of Grana Louise, Davis, the spine-shaking soul-blues of Zora Young, or the tough and tender Karen Carroll without it. 13 fantastic cuts, a budget price, and the opportunity to learn something -- what more could you want?

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