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Naughty, Bawdy and Blue
(Stoney Plain Records. SPCD 1319)
Review Date: November 2007
by Tom Hamilton
In the sleeve notes Maria states that at the tender age of 17 she ran away from home and wound up just 7 blocks away, looking after 2 young girls for her room and board. It was there she had access to a vast collection of blues and jazz 78's. When searching through she discovered Bessie Smith's Empty Bed Blues and as she puts it " ...moved me to the core, bowled me over and literarlly changed my life". She has included Bessie's song on Naughty, Bawdy & Blue her final installment tribute to the "Classic Blues Queens", a gathering of great and forgotten female blues singer's music of the 20's, 30's and 40's.
Maria is backed on all but one song by the incredible James Dapogny's Chicago Jazz Band who bring an amazing authenticity to the sound and feel on the album, along side the gravel voiced Miss Muldaur, whose voice throught has never sounded better.
Highlights are in abundance but with stand-out tracks like the risque 'Handy Man', the listener has to remember the era when these songs were originally released. 'Handy Man' is full of "sassy" lyrics (...greases my griddle, churns my butter...) that might even make Mae West blush. Mammie Smith's opening track Down Home Blues', has vaudevillian style to it, shows Maria's voice off to best effect backed up with some amazing horn playing, which is constant throught out the album. Bonnie Raitt joins Maria on 'Seperation Blues', with the chemistry and love of this era showing all to well between these two artists. The only track where Maria is not backed with the full band, is the low-down and dirty version of Bessie Smith's track 'Empty Bed Blues', she is joined here by just Dave Mathews on piano and Kevin Porter playing real fine trombone.
With this and the previous tribute CD's Maria can feel proud at keeping the torch burning for the Classic Blues Queens who, unlike there male couterparts, are not given the status they deserve in American blues music. Maybe some 17 year old will listen to this album and be effected as much as Maria was. I can tell you I am well over that age but this reviewer will be trawlling the back catalogues of all the artists honored in this great trbute CD.
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