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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



Empty Bed Blues

1927 to 1928






  1. Alexander’s Ragtime Band
  2. Muddy Water
  3. After You’ve Gone
  4. There’ll Be a Hot Time In the Old Town Tonight
  5. Send Me to the ’Lectric Chair
  6. Them’s Graveyard Words
  7. Sweet Mistreater
  8. Lock & Key
  9. Foolish Man Blues
  10. Thinking Blues
  11. I Used to Be Your Sweet Mama
  12. I’d Rather Be Dead and Buried in my Grave
  13. Standin’ In the Rain
  14. It Won’t Be You
  15. Empty Bed Blues
  16. Please Help me Get Him Off My Mind
  17. Washwoman’s Blues
  18. Devil’s Gonna Get You
  19. Yes Indeed He Do

On this Volume 4, Bessie has the benefit of some much more professional backing then on the previously released volumes. Coleman Hawkins, Buster Bailey, Fletcher Henderson, James P Johnson and Tommy Ladnier all have brief appearances.

For the many fans of Bessie Smith, Naxos has done their usual excellent job in cleaning up these recordings, by virtually eliminating noise and hiss. Unfortunately to me this has just exposed even more clearly, that whilst Bessie is credited by many as having developed the classic jazz and blues female vocal style, none of this swings much. Bessie seems to me to have more to do with vaudeville than jazz!

No doubt there are many people out there, who will enjoy hearing their favourite Bessie Smith recordings in a much higher quality of reproduction than previously, but they don’t do much for me. I prefer other singer’s versions of the songs that get nearer to a real jazz performance.

Don Mather


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