These two discs reflect, in their way, the incredibly rich, varied lineage of women in the blues. And of course, given the title, we're not talking about singers – though many of these women do sing. With liner notes by Sue Foley, who compiled the set, this collection reaches backward and forward to mirror back to the culture the wild, wooly underside of the blues via its female six-string slingers. There are relative newcomers like Laura Chavez (who plays with Lara Price), Finland's Erja Lyytinen, and Austin's Eve Monses; seasoned veterans like Alice Stuart, Foley, Debbie Davies, Jesse Mae Hemphill, Joann Kelly, Rory Block, Bonnie Raitt with Maria Muldaur, Ellen McIlwaine…
Blues With a Message isn't just about lost love and the toils of specific lives, the blues (particularly within the folk-blues traditions) spent some time dealing with sociopolitical issues on the side, primarily before the rise of electric blues. Here, Arhoolie has compiled a set of pieces related to a surprisingly large number of issues. Among them: Minstrel shows, the mechanization of cotton farming, and its related exodus to the North, sharecropping, segregation, the Korean War, the influenza epidemic, the New Deal, civil rights movements, Chicago employment opportunities – all are given a song or two here. The music quality is roughly equivalent to many of the folk-blues recordings available, though the "big name" artists are largely absent from this one (Lightnin Hopkins does make an appearance singing about sharecropping, however). The songs are deliberately focused on the issues more than the music, but the music can still carry its soul. This one probably won't be on many highest-sales lists in the blues, but it's both historically important and musically enjoyable.
This compilation provides an interesting survey of 9 blues slide guitar players. Collected from various independent record labels and recorded over the period 1960 through 1993, all of these tracks have been previously released albeit on hard to find albums and CDs. It is great to have these tracks collected in one place.
CDs from this collection began to appear in the sale of one after the other in early 1998. The collection was designed primarily for fans of blues and those wishing to join him in France, Canada and other French-speaking countries, as its literary part was originally made in French and it seems and has not been translated into other languages.
Thanks in part to the luridly alluring title and the enthusiastically informative liner notes by Bob Koester, this solid collection was many a young musician's introduction to the men who pioneered blues piano in the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt Sykes is the best represented artist here, and his leering vocals are hard to resist: After hearing the ribald metaphor of "Dresser Drawers," you'll never view furniture quite the same way again.