Fell In Love With A Girl
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The blues, for the most part, have been a male dominated genre. Wasn't always the case, however. The early years of blues music were equally populated by female singers such as Bessie Smith & Ma Rainey. It's a shame that it has become a male dominated field, however, because I feel women invest themselves in to the 'song' more then men do. Men invest themselves in to the instrumentation more (they always said the guitar is nothing but an extension of the phallus!).
The previous two discs have been, for the most part, examples of "delta" blues, in particular Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. This disc, however, showcases other shades of the genre including Gospel, Jazz & in particular, Soul (in fact, I only found one example of what I would call "Delta" blues).
I have tried to give examples from the 1920's right on through 2005. (The other option was to make it all Etta James, but that would have been too easy). Interestingly enough, there is quite a gap from 1972 to 1989. Not that there wasn't any females blues during that time, but overall, it was a dark period in poplar music (trust me, I lived through it), yet alone the blues. Including such a wide time frame on this disc is not fair to the more contemporary selections . . . they truly don't stand a chance when measured against the earlier stuff.
The Reverend Is My Man
Female Blues Singers - Complete Recorded Works
I can not provide any details on Christina Gray other than she was from New Orleans. I just found it to be a sassy example of the early blues.
My Daddy Rocks MeTrixie Smith
Complete Recorded Works Vol. 2 (1925-39)
It ain't really her 'Daddy', and he isn't really 'rocking' her.
The Quintessential Billie Holiday, Vol. 9 (1940-1942)
If this isn't the blues, I don't know what is. This song was not without controversy, supposedly responsible for over 200 suicides (I guess you can add Judas Priest to the list of rock act's copying the blues). Despite the controversy, this was a big hit for Billy Holiday, one of many in a legendary and influential career, a fine example of her sultry vocal styling.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1942-1944)
Not only was Sister Rosetta Tharpe a very popular gospel singer in the 40's and 50's, she also played the guitar, including the intro to this song.
Originally starting off as a pianist for Roy Milton in the 40's, well known for her boogie playing style, she later moved to the microphone. This was released on specialty Records, a legendary label that released the likes of the aforementioned Roy Milton, Percy Mayfeild, Lloyd Price, Clifton Chenier, Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers and, of course, Little Richard.
Big Mama Thornton
Hound Dog - The Peacock Recordings
Big Mama Thorton's claim to fame is of course her original recording of "Hound Dog", a song later made popular by Elvis in 1956. Big Mama's version was a large hit as well, spending 7 weeks at the top of the R&B charts in 1958. This selection was released before "Hound Dog", in 1952. Nice driving beat accompanied by her growling vocals.
Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974
The first of many Atlantic artists on this disc, Lavern Baker had a powerful, booming vocal style, as showcased on this track. This too was covered by Elvis, acoustically during his Sun Records years, though not with the success of "Hound Dog".
One Monkey Don't Stop No Show
The Okeh Sessions
Was she called Big Maybelle because of her large vocal style? Probably not . . . she was also built like a tank.
99 And A Half Won't Do
Dorothy Love Coates
The Best of Dorothy Love Coates & the Original Gospel Harmonettes
I have never seen American Idol. Hard to avoid the commercials, however. I see those contestants trying so hard to inject emotion - waving their arms in the air, bending at the knees -into whatever song they are trying to sing. Listen to this this Dorothy Love Coates track. Do you think she's trying to inject emotion into the song? No, that's the real thing. No cameras, no judges, no audience besides those present in the studio.
If the music you listen to doesn't, from time to time, give you goose bumps, then you need to find new music.
I Don't Know
The "House that Ruth Built" doesn't always refer to Yankee Stadium. If you are not familiar with the story of Atlantic records, I would suggest you make yourself familiar with it. The founder, Ahmet Ertegun, recently passed away after falling backstage at a Rolling Stones concert. The term genius is often tossed around without much regard to it's definition, but make no mistake that Ahmet (or, as Otis Redding called him - "Omelet" - not out of disrespect . . . that's what he thought his name was!) was a true genius. Back to the point - Ruth Brown was one of the early stars of Atlantic Records with such hits as "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean" and "5-10-15 Hours" and really helped the label stay afloat in their early years with here success. I really enjoy this selection, which came later in here tenure at Atlantic.
I'm A Little Mixed Up
The Blues - Volume 4
Seemingly a 'one hit' wonder, recorded for Chicago's legendary Chess label.
I Just Wanna Make Love to You
Etta James started with the aforementioned Atlantic Records, recording many seminal tracks with them. This was part of her first album with Chess records, a cover version of Muddy Waters song of the same name (Muddy being a Chess artist as well). Coming from a female's perspective changes the whole tone of the song.
Time Is On My Side
Sweet Soul Queen of New Orleans: The Irma Thomas Collection
A fine soul singer with many great songs, she will always be remembered for being the original artist of one of the Rolling Stones first hits which is presented here. Your generation does not seem to give the Stones their proper due (or maybe it's just Dick), but they were a fantastic conduit to the blues. Much of their early stuff was blues covers, including the aforementioned "I Just Wanna Make Love to You", "I'm a King Bee", "Little Red Rooster", etc. They did as good of a job covering this song as could be expected, even down to the "Go right ahead baby and light up the town" scat.
When My Love Comes Down
The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968
You remember "Chef" from South Park, right? He co-wrote this song. Now close your eyes and picture him singing this to Cartman's mom . . . smiling aren't ya? I was recently asked who my favorite guitarist was and I surprised my petitioner with the response of "Steve Cropper" who is featured here. Not known for guitar acrobatics such as Jimi, Stevie Ray or his favorite, Jeff Beck, he was known for finding the perfect fills (note "dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding). And now that we have addressed the songwriter and guitarist, lest we forget the star of the show - Ruby Johnson. My aforementioned comments regarding female singers investing themselves into a song are perfectly realized with this selection. Did I mentioned this was released through Atlantic Records?
Baby, Baby, Baby
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
Aretha is very overrated. Please don't misunderstand me - I think she is utterly fantastic. I think she's overrated because of the deity status she has seemed to acquire. Lest we forget that she had a five year stretch, starting with when she signed on with Atlantic Records (there they are again), where she could do no wrong. She was unable to sustain that momentum (to be fair, not many can). For more information on this song and Aretha please check out this post at "The B-Side", which is where I got the track from.
Have A Little Mercy
Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures: Taken From Our Vaults Volume 1
I just came across this song. Can't find out a thing about her. Loved it the first time I heard it, however.
Until Then I'll Suffer
Atlantic Sisters of Soul
Another guitar playing female singer. And look at the label . . . Atlantic!
This is a cover of a soul song originally done by Garnett Mimms. Janis, however, made it her own.
Nick of Time
Just a delicious mix of funk & blues from Ms. Raitt. Two interesting things about her - first, shes has played with many a great blues man in her day, including Muddy & John Lee. Secondly, she is married to Michael O'Keefe - you know him as Noonan from Caddyshack!
Joan Osborne showed so much promise when she came out. Her first album - Relish - was fantastic, and her 2nd, Righteous Love, was just as good as well. Then she came out with an album of covers and then really hit bottom on her last album . . . country (and it was not even good country, it was the shitty kind of country). This was released on the soundtrack of a an Ellen Degeneres movie between the first and second album. I find the song to be addicting . . .
Won't Go Out
Alright, This Time Just the Girls Volume 2
This is the aforementioned sample of "delta" blues. One of her fans is Jack White - he invited her to do a duet with him - "It's True That We Love One Another" on the Stripes Elephant Album.
If you are not familiar with The Come On's you should check them out. They are a local band (Ferndale, I believe). The singer, Deanne Iovan, used to be in the Gore Gore Girls and the drummer also pounds the skins for the Dirtbombs. Not usually this bluesy - more uptempo, R&B flavor.
Fell in Love with a Boy
The Soul Sessions
I enjoyed her first album, which is where this track is from. Her second album was not as good - she started to sound like Mariah Carey (and that's not a compliment). Not sure what to expect on the third album. Anyone who covers the White Stripes can't be all that bad though, can they?
I've Got My Own Hell to Raise
Bettye Lavette has been a journeyman singer since the early 60. This track, however, is from a 2005 release. It is a cover of a Lucinda Williams song. She adopted the lyrics to her own experiences, however - she did start off in Detroit, went to Atlantic Records (New York) and even Muscle Shoals.