Ma Rainey, An Introduction To Ma Rainey

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The Mother of the Blues proves her versatility on a sterling collection.

Though all her nearly-100 seminal Paramount sides (1923-28) are available at eMusic, this is surpassed only by Ma Rainey as the single best disk of The Mother of the Blues. Her booming voice could be anything from harsh to gentle, her backings anything from simple to sophisticated. She swings unflaggingly through everything from the risqué “Shave ‘Em Dry Blues” to the angry “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” and the standard-to-be “See See Rider Blues.”