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Why Don't You Do Right? (1940-1942)

Lil Green

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Album Review

Mississippi-born Lil Green was one of Chicago's most distinctive blues women of the 1940s. During a career that lasted a little over a decade she cut about 55 titles, mostly for Bluebird and that label's parent company Victor, and finally for Aladdin and Atlantic in 1949 and 1951. Released in 1996, EPM Musique's Why Don't You Do Right? is a sampler of this woman's best early works dating from the years 1940-1942. Lil is heard with her close friend and regular accompanist during this period, guitarist Big Bill Broonzy; with pianist Henry Simeon and either Al Collins or the mighty Ransom Knowling on the string bass. The 23 choice cuts include her first Bluebird hit "Romance in the Dark"; the slowly paced "Knockin' Myself Out," her eerily accurate paean to the art of systematic self-immolation, and "Why Don't You Do Right," which was rewritten and retitled for her by Kansas Joe McCoy, who had introduced it with the Harlem Hamfats a few years earlier under the lurid title of "Weed Smoker's Dream." Within months of its release, Lil's "Why Don't You Do Right" inspired Peggy Lee to record what turned out to be a very successful cover version with Benny Goodman's Orchestra. As Lee's career took off like a rocket, Lil Green would spend her remaining years helping to establish a modernized blues style that someone in the music industry decided to label rhythm & blues. This disc will work nicely as an introductory taste, but the best and most comprehensive way to hear and appreciate Lil Green is to track down her complete works, reissued in three volumes by the Classics Chronological Rhythm & Blues series during the years 2003-2005.

Why Don't You Do Right? (1940-1942), Lil Green
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