Victoria Spivey, Victoria Spivey Vol. 1 1926-1927

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A little bit of country with your blues?

This Texan put a lot of country feeling into her jazz-inflected, urban blues. Her crying, moaning vocal style gave her a hit on her first try, the 1926 "Black Snake Blues" (with sister Addie Spivey and Dorothy Scott playing one piano). "T.B. Blues" and "Dope Head Blues" are classics of early blues realism. She was also no stranger to winking, double — to say nothing of single — entendre eroticism like "Steady Grind" and "The Alligator Pond Went Dry." Spivey was one of the few to outlast her era, moving into movies and revues in the '30s and remaining active until the early '50s. She came out of retirement in 1962 with her own label, on which Bob Dylan made his recording debut as a harmonica sideman.