Answer: a talented, prolific, assertive one! I think it’s a bit criminal that, in discussions of the giants of pre-war black music, Memphis Minnie is often peripheral if she’s mentioned at all. Criminal, because JSP’s five discs of her “complete published work” from 1929-1937 are of consistent high quality, spiked by a heavy dose of her ringing, stinging, grooveful guitar, her mordant wit, and her entertaining skirmishes with her (temporary) husband Kansas Joe McCoy and the Memphis Jug Band. Ms. Lizzie Douglas was a major figure–don’t let anyone fool you. And guess what? JSP’s second five-disc set, covering the rest of her approximately quarter-century career, pretty much follows suit, featuring indelible classics like “Me and My Chauffeur Blues” and “Kissin’ in the Dark.”
But enough of my yackin’: partake of this playlist, and consider that JSP’s stellar sets, graced with very good sound, are usually $10 cheaper than a new piece of vinyl.
Caveats: the second JSP box has a healthy share of alternate takes, and seekers after “When the Levee Breaks” should be apprised that it’s categorized under Kansas Joe’s output.
Cross-caveat: the sound on the second box, better for chronological reasons, mitigates against the effect of the above.
Sonny Boy Williamson II (Aleck Miller): Boppin’ with Sonny Boy and 1951-1953–Trumpet label mastery (pre-Chess Records).
Otis Spann: Good Morning Mr. Blues–Blues piano…ever played better than here?