Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Maria Muldaur -- "First Came Memphis Minnie"

For her 40th album, Maria Muldaur presents a loving tribute to blues pioneer Memphis Minnie. This is a wonderful cd, and Memphis Minnie surely deserves to be lifted up in this fashion. Memphis Minnie was the reigning queen of mid-20th century blues, a blues singer, songwriter, entrepreneur and guitar player-par excellence; a colorful, larger-than-life character who was one of the first blues musicians to record with an electric guitar. In a career that spanned over 40 years, she released over 200 songs, many of which are still classics today. This tribute cd features special guests Rory Block, Ruthie Foster, Bonnie Raitt, Phoebe Snow, and Koko Taylor. Other musicians on this cd include Del Ray, David Bromberg, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Roy Rogers, Steve James and Steve Freund.

Several of the songs included here were previously-released from two of Maria's Grammy-nominated albums. Two of the songs are previously recorded by artists who are no longer with us. Koko Taylor's cover of "Black Rat Swing" is from her cd "Old School" from 2007 and Phoebe Snow's cover of "In My Girlish Days" is from her cd "It Looks Like Snow" from 1976. Some of the songs on this new tribute cd are also new recordings from Rory Block, Ruthie Foster and Bonnie Raitt.

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of Maria Muldaur. Well, with this release you get great singing by Maria Muldaur, AND great singing and playing by Bonnie Raitt and Ruthie Foster and Rory Block and Phoebe Snow and Koko Taylor--all accompanied by great musicians in really wonderful arrangements. Each song here is presented with a mix of reverence and passion, featuring the talents of the artists at hand and lifting up Memphis Minnie.

My favorite song here changes every time I listen to it--but this afternoon I am really taken with the cover of "Me And My Chauffeur Blues" by Maria Muldaur with Roy Rogers on guitar and Roly Salley on bass. Fabulous in every way. 

This is one of the most accessible, joyful and soul-satisfying releases of Maria Muldaur's career, and it is one of the top cds I have heard in 2012. Highly recommended.

You can buy this cd at  

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