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Deluxe Edition: Saffire - The Uppity Blues Women

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Album Review

There is plenty of fire in Saffire — The Uppity Blues Women, a trio of feisty multiracial middle-aged acoustic blues femmes who, rather surprisingly, were one of the top sellers from Alligator's male-dominated, plugged-in roster. This generous 20-track, 75-minute compilation collects highlights from the threesome's previous seven Alligator albums, spanning 1990-2001. Led by pianist and co-founder Ann Rabson's barroom honky tonk piano and Gaye Adegbalola's gutsy vocals and guitar, the band hit a nerve for a previously untapped audience of older, predominantly female blues fans. With double entendre lyrics flying ("Silver Beaver," "Elevator Man," "Middle Aged Blues Boogie," "Wild Women Don't Have the Blues"), the aggressive sexuality boasted in the majority of these songs may have seemed sassy at the time, but was just a throwback to the similarly raucous style of classic female blues singers such as Ma Rainey, Sippie Wallace, and Ida Cox. The big difference was that Saffire could play their instruments, and play them well, which added a layer of self-confidence to their shtick. With three distinctive singers and a strong sense of pacing, the music never gets boring, although at 20 cuts, this does start to feel repetitious in spots. There are no rarities, so fans won't need to take the plunge, but for newcomers this is a perfect introduction to a unique female group that proved it could hold its own in the testosterone-heavy world of blues music.


Formed: Virginia

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

At one point in the early '90s, the ladies from Saffire just considered themselves blues historians, but since their performing career has gotten launched on the festival circuit, they've become much more than that. All three have developed into talented songwriters. Since blues fans are always looking for fresh themes or new twists on old themes, this trio is a sought-after club and festival act. The core members of the Virginia-based group include pianist Ann Rabson (b. April 12, 1945) and Gaye...
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