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Collection

4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Backed by a rotating roster of jazz stars, Smith's potent delivery made her a peerless star of classic female blues, combining a fiercely independent, almost defiant approach with subtly effective tinges of vulnerability. Early cuts such as "Downhearted Blues," which supposedly saved Columbia records from extinction in 1923, and "T'aint Nobody's Bizness If I Do" feature only Clarence Williams's piano behind her, but it's her work with Louis Armstrong that truly stands out-Satchmo majestically bobs and weaves his cornet around Smith's lines on "St. Louis Blues," "Reckless Blues," "I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle," and the ragtime chestnut "You've Been a Good Old Wagon." Unfortunately, Columbia offers buyers only two options: this cursory 16-song introduction or an exhaustive five-volume double-CD series. --Marc Greilsamer
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0000026N0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,787 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Bessie Smith Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Anthony G Pizza VINE VOICE on October 15, 2000
Format: Audio CD
"The Collection" is an outstanding introductory set to Bessie Smith's music and legend and to the basics of blues and pop songwriting.
Smith blazed a trail others tragically followed throughout the century: hard-partying, victimized singer (usually female) lays soul bare in the music before dying tragically and mysteriously (Edward Albee's 1959 play and the Band's tribute song "Bessie Smith" play to her legend.) You see the results here in intimate, jazz-tinted blues like "'Taint Nobody's Bizness If I Do," "Empty Bed Blues," "I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle," and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out" (recorded months before 1929's stock market crash). These were truly "alternative" pop songs years before that term; assertive, angry songs a woman sang less than 10 years after women's suffrage (let alone amidst the racism rampant in 1920s society.)
These songs and Smith's powerful, wailing vocals are still haunting 70 years later. When, in "Young Woman Blues," Smith sings, "Some people call me a hobo, some people call me a bum/nobody knows my name, nobody knows what I've done," she ironically anticipates the legends of Jimmy Rodgers, Billie Holiday, Hank Williams, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, and two generations' songwriters and musicians whose personal lonliness and pain, musically stated, comforted and saved many after their deaths.
The restoration from the original metal and shellac masters is extraordinary, especially considering lesser quality on other titles in Columbia's "Jazz Masters" series. Yet despite this, and legendary help from the era's biggest stars (Louis Armstrong, Jack Teegarden, Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman) it's Bessie Smith's pain and joy-filled vocals, which root all personal expression in popular music, that makes "Collection" musically enjoyable, historically rich, and exceptionally essential.
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Format: Audio CD
This is absolutely THE place to start listening music of greatest blues singer from 20-es.I was so moved by Bessie's voice that I went on with exploring music of others female singers of her time - Ida Cox,Alberta Hunter,Sippie Wallace,Clara Smith,Victoria Spivey,Mamie Smith... nobody (except lovable Ma Rainey) could come close to great,majestic Bessie Smith who was called "Empress" and there was a reason for it - none of her conterporaries is remember today.Deep,powerful voice of Bessie Smith - reminds strangely of Mahalia Jackson (just one of singers who were influenced by Bessie,others were Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington who even recorded a full album of her songs)- communicates through cracky primitive recordings from 20-es to listener,as none of other blues singers from her time does.This CD has all of Bessie's glorious moments (more than double CD "Essential") and it follows her 10 years in the studio,from her first hit "Downhearted blues" to the last "Gimme A Pigfoot".For everybody who love this,I recommend "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and Rhino collection "Classic Blues Women".There is a nice biography of Bessie Smith by Chris Albertson as well.Can't believe her grave was unmarked until 1970.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The sound quality is excellent. Bessie Smith the singer is excellent. I've listened to the CD three times and enjoy it more each time I hear it. First rate. I'd give it 6 stars if there were that many available. She has a good voice for blues and she never sings off key. The piano backing is nice too. I look forward to listening to this CD again and again.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As the Advisor for the Bessie Smith Society Club on a small Liberal Arts Campus you know I am somewhat predisposed toward anything Bessie. However this collection demonstrates her fine talent and covers a wide range of her music.
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Format: Audio CD
The tunes are stated to be "digitally remastered directly from the original analog tapes". The following note is provided on p.10 of the notes: "Producer's Note: Every effort has been made to preserve the integrity of the original pre-stereo analog recordings. The listener should be aware, however, that these transfers from metal or shellack parts contain imperfections which were inherent in the recording equipment and techniques of that time."

I found the quality to be quite good, though possibly limited by editing techniques at the time this CD was published. The album shows a 1989 copyright.

I might be able to improve the sound a little with my current, relatively modest techniques, probably just to reduce background hiss a little and maybe remove a low tick sound here and there. But I doubt that I could do much to improve the sound. It is really quite good.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a great disc. It is my first disc of old blues crooners and I plan to continue exploring the genre. She has so much SOUL!! The old analog sound gives character to the disc but is not too disracting from the music. You can feel the history in the recording but can easily feel and relate to the emotions that Betty is tellin.
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