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Shave 'em Dry: The Best of Lucille Bogan

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Album Review

Though actual biographical details are sketchy in the historical record, culturally it can be assumed that there was no tougher woman on record than Lucille Bogan (or, in later years, Bessie Jackson — both are represented here). This Legacy issue compiles her recordings from between 1933 and 1935, after her initial success with OKeh and Brunswick. Indeed, the lion's share of the material issued comes from sides cut for Banner, ARC (Brunswick's chain-store budget line), and Vocalion. Featuring accompaniment by pianist Walter Roland (and bluesman Josh White on one side), there are 20 tracks here that showcase the mythology around Bogan/Jackson. Whether it is the completely raunchy blues in songs like "Barbecue Bess," "Skin Game Blues," and the infamous "Shave 'Em Dry," or the lean-time Depression-era working-class blues signified by "Tired as I Can Be," "Hungry Man's Scuffle," or "Watcha Gonna Do," the effect is the same: unflinching, brutal, powerful, and evocative music that stands tall outside of time and space. This set includes three previously unreleased cuts, two other versions of "Shave 'Em Dry" and the amazing "Till the Cows Come Home." There are more complete collections, but no introduction to Lucille Bogan is more representative than this one.

Biography

Born: 01 April 1897 in Amory, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s

Bessie Jackson was a pseudonym of Lucille Bogan, a classic female blues artist from the '20s and '30s. Her outspoken lyrics deal with sexuality in a manner that manages to raise eyebrows even within a genre that is about as nasty as recorded music ever got prior to the emergence of artists such as 2 Live Crew or Ludacris. The name change seems to be quite different in her case than the usual pattern among blues artists who recorded under other names simply to make an end run around pre-existing recording...
Full Bio

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