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Virginia Liston, Vol. 1 (1923-1924)

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Album Review

An obscure but talented classic blues singer, Virginia Liston recorded 36 selections during 1923-1926. The first 23 are on this Document CD. Although Liston did not have any hits, many of her recordings are memorable. Vol. 1 is highlighted by "You Thought I Was Blind but Now I See," "You Can Have It (I Don't Want It)," "Early in the Morning," and "You've Got the Right Keyhole." The latter two songs have Liston joined by Clarence Williams' Blue Five, which at the time included cornetist Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet (on clarinet and soprano), and trombonist Charles Irvis. All of the other selections have Williams on piano (usually solo) except for "Jail House Blues," which has a guitarist who might possibly be Bechet (in his only recording on the instrument). As usual, Document does an excellent job of reissuing obscure recordings complete and in chronological order. Collectors of 1920s classic blues will want this set and its follow-up, Vol. 2.


Born: 1890

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s

Virginia Liston was one of the blues singers whose career was spent primarily in Black vaudeville. She is said to have gotten her start in show business around 1912 in Washington D.C. In 1920 she married entertainer Sam Gray and toured with him as part of a husband-and-wife team called Liston & Liston. They divorced in 1925. In the early '20s Liston came in contact with Clarence Williams, who recorded with her for Okeh for the first time in September, 1923. Thirty-six issued sides for Okeh and Vocalion...
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Virginia Liston, Vol. 1 (1923-1924), Virginia Liston
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