Memphis Minnie, Memphis Minnie Vol. 5 (1940-1941)

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The originator of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.”

Though especially influential among women — Maria Muldaur and Lucinda Williams both swear by her — Lizzie Douglas, aka Memphis Minnie, had a profound impact on all blues-based music. (Consider Led Zep's version of her "When the Levee Breaks.") Rooted in the Delta, her cutting, incisive guitar and gritty, no-nonsense vocals helped shape Chicago blues, and she crafted her vivid songs as brilliantly as any writer in the genre. This disc provides the best balance between her hits ("Me and My Chauffeur Blues" became a '60s blues-rock standard) and some of her less recognizable, but equally stunning, sides (the disillusioned "Nothing in Rambling," a Williams favorite).