Label: Document Records
Release Date: May 14, 1996
Releases: September, 2000
Recording Time: 69 minutes
Recording Date: August 1, 1924 - March, 1927
Styles: Classic Female Blues, Country Blues, Pre-War Blues
Featured Artist: Laura Smith
Laura Smith is a somewhat mysterious figure in blues/jazz history. Although sometimes mentioned as one of the unrelated blues "Smith girls" (along with Bessie, Mamie, Clara and Trixie), very little is known about Laura, who died in 1932 from high blood pressure; none of her recordings seem to have ever been reissued on LP. This CD, which contains all of her solo sides except for her last four numbers (which are on a Vol. 2 set along with other singers) and two selections that could not be found, fills in the gap. Strangely enough, Smith sounds strongest on her very first session, which resulted in three excellent numbers ("Texas Moaner Blues," "I'm Gonna Get Myself a Real Man" and "Has Anybody Seen My Man?"). Her voice seems to have declined gradually through the years, and by the time she recorded "Don't You Leave Me Here" (associated with Jelly Roll Morton) in 1927, much of the power was gone. The music overall is a bit erratic; a few numbers (including two religious tunes) find her accompanied either by a pair of violins and a guitar or by a combo consisting of harmonica, violin, guitar and Perry Bradford's piano -- neither really work. The best instrumental backup is provided by Clarence Williams, whether just his solo piano or heading a group that includes cornetist Tom Morris, trombonist Charlie Irvis, banjoist Buddy Christian and clarinetist Ernest Elliott, a streaky player whose excesses are under control here. There are enough strong moments on this complete CD to justify its purchase, especially by vintage blues collectors who always wondered what Laura Smith sounded like.
by Scott Yanow
Credits: Fay Barnes - composer; Perry Bradford - composer; J.C. Johnson - composer; Art Kassel - composer; Johnny Parth - producer; Howard Rye - liner notes; Laura Smith - primary artist; Laura Smith - performer, primary artist; Melville Stitzel - composer; Gerhard Wessely - remastering; Clarence Williams - composer.
Tracks: 1) Texas moaner blues; 2) I`m gonna get myself a real man; 3) Has anybody seen my man?; 4) My best friend stole my man and gone; 5) Two-faced woman blues; 6) I can always tell when my man don`t want me `round; 7) Face to face; 8) Take me home, heavenly Father, with thee; 9) Lucy long; 10) Disgusted blues; 11) Humming blues; 12) Cool can blues; 13) I`ll get even with you; 14) If you don`t like it (74084); 15) Jackass blues; 16) Them has been blues; 17) I`m goin` to have seven years bad luck; 18) When a `gator holler (folks say sign o` rain); 19) If you don`t like it like I want it done (I`ll get somebody else); 20) I`m gonna kill myself; 21) My man just won`t don`t; 22) Hatefull blues; 23) Gonna put you right in jail; 24) Don't you leave me here.