bessie smith

The contents of this page relate to bessie smith.

Bettye LaVette and Drive-By Truckers: The Scene of the Crime (Anti) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Bettye LaVette and Drive-By Truckers: The Scene of the Crime (Anti) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

This is an unexpected pairing: soul-singer LaVette with alt-country rockers Drive-By Truckers recording in Muscle Shoals in Alabama. A marriage made in heaven (or a somewhat hotter place) as it turns out: the band are edgy or supportive and nudge LaVette (who needs little prompting it must be said) through a collection of gritty songs which...

Amy Winehouse: Frank Deluxe (Island)

Her life might the equivalent of a pub brawl (indeed sometimes it is, literally), but then again some seminal singers didn't always live a quiet life in the suburbs. What Winehouse's court appearances and fragile state have meant however is that there are holding actions on the part of her record company until she gets back on the rails....

BESSIE SMITH: The Empress of the Blues -- and jazz? (1991)

BESSIE SMITH: The Empress of the Blues -- and jazz? (1991)

It wasn’t just because he discovered Bessie Smith that Columbia executive John Hammond sank money into recording her in 1933 when her money was all gone. Columbia was all but bankrupt and Hammond scuffling for bucks himself. But to the end of his life Hammond simply believed Bessie Smith to be “the greatest artist American jazz...

TRAVELLING RIVERSIDE BLUES: Robert Johnson, the blues and Clarksdale, Mississippi

TRAVELLING RIVERSIDE BLUES: Robert Johnson, the blues and Clarksdale, Mississippi

The intersection of highways 61 and 49 near Clarksdale in northwest Mississippi doesn't look particularly special: there's a car yard, a service station, a couple of kids listlessly kicking a ball outside Abe's barbecue shop . . . Just the usual stuff. The only thing to distinguish it from hundreds of other such intersections in the state is...

LOU REED'S BETWEEN THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION: Boxed for you in '92

LOU REED'S BETWEEN THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION: Boxed for you in '92

Blame Dylan for box sets. It was his Biograph in November ’85 (16 unreleased tracks among the 53 spread across five albums, later three CDs) which began things by reaching 33 on the American charts. Sure, there had been box sets before – but mostly for dead guys. Dylan and CDs together proved there was money in this...

JANIS JOPLIN: Singing out the painful sparks within

JANIS JOPLIN: Singing out the painful sparks within

Of all those admitted to that illustrious pantheon of Dead Sixties Rock Stars, Janis Joplin has been the one least well served. Jimi is revered and regularly remarketed; and Jim has his reissued albums, an Oliver Stone bio-pix, a new headstone in Pere La Chaise and people still seem to refer to him as “a poet”. And Janis?...

CLEO LAINE INTERVIEWED (2005): Ain't nothin' like a dame

CLEO LAINE INTERVIEWED (2005): Ain't nothin' like a dame

At 77 and with a career of almost six decades behind her, Cleo Laine admits she is slowing down a little. But not much. This year she is fully booked and that includes dates in Australia and New Zealand, as far as it is possible to get from her stately home in Buckinghamshire where she lives with her husband of 46 years, John Dankworth....

Aretha Franklin: Don't Play That Song For Me (1970)

Aretha Franklin: Don't Play That Song For Me (1970)

It's a well established fact that some songs write themselves into our autobiographies: we remember our first love by our favourite song, can be taken back to exactly where we were and who we were with when a certain piece of music plays, songs conjure up time and place . . . Talkin' 'bout them Night Moves. The Classic Hits radio format...

Nina Simone: At Town Hall/The Amazing Nina Simone (Jackpot/Southbound)

Nina Simone: At Town Hall/The Amazing Nina Simone (Jackpot/Southbound)

Troublesome woman though she may have been -- angry, politically volatile, courageously self-obssessed -- there was never any denying her phenomenal, rare talent. Classically trained but with her heart also in gospel, r'n'b, jazz and blues, Nina Simone (1933 - 2003) crossed stylistic boundaries on piano as if they didn't exist, and her...

Janis Joplin: Trouble in Mind (1965)

Janis Joplin: Trouble in Mind (1965)

The great Janis Joplin has been dead for over four decades now but it would be fair to observe that no woman in rock has ever approached her deep understanding of the blues and earthy, powerful delivery . . . let alone her self-destructive approach to life. Yet she has been largely forgotten and, as this essay notes, no one seems in any mind...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Amy Winehouse: Back to Black (Universal)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Amy Winehouse: Back to Black (Universal)

If you were one of the few who didn't buy Amy Winehouse's second album Back to Black on release in 2006 you doubtless picked it up when it came out as an expanded edition a couple of years later. Or, failing that, picked up the four-CD box set which coupled the expanded version with her debut Frank and some extra tracks which accompanied that...

Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa: Don't Explain (J&R Adventures)

Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa: Don't Explain (J&R Adventures)

Janis Joplin would scare the daylight out of most sleeve sucking, infantile women pop singers cluttering the charts and few have taken her as a role model. Hart played Joplin in a stage production and seemed well cast given her sandpaper-brushed roar. Here with Black Country Communion guitar virtuoso Bonamassa, she covers material by...

Tags related to bessie smith