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Home Blues Compilation Sorry But I Can't Take You - Women's Railroad Blues (1980)

Sorry But I Can't Take You - Women's Railroad Blues (1980)

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Sorry But I Can't Take You - Women's Railroad Blues (1980)

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A1 	–Trixie Smith 	Freight Train Blues

Bass – Richard Fullbright
Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone – Sidney Bechet
Drums – O'Neill Spencer
Guitar – Teddy Bunn
Piano – Sammy Price
Trumpet – Charlie Shavers
Vocals – Trixie Smith
Written-By – Murphy, Dorsey

A2 	–Clara Smith 	Freight Train Blues

Clara Smith And Her Jazz Trio
Clarinet – Cecil Scott, Don Redman
Piano – Porter Grainger
Vocals – Clara Smith
Written-By – Murphy, Dorsey

A3 	–Bessie Smith 	Chicago Bound Blues

Clarinet – Don Redman
Piano – Fletcher Henderson
Vocals – Bessie Smith
Written-By – Lovie Austin

A4 	–Trixie Smith 	Choo Choo Blues

Trixie Smith And Her Down Home Syncopaters
Clarinet – Buster Bailey
Cornet – Howard Chambers
Piano – Fletcher Henderson
Trombone – Charlie Green
Vocals – Trixie Smith
Written-By – John T. Erby

A5 	–Trixie Smith 	Railroad Blues

Trixie Smith And Her Down Home Syncopaters
Banjo – Charlie Dixon
Clarinet – Buster Bailey
Cornet – Louis Armstrong
Piano – Fletcher Henderson
Trombone – Charlie Green
Vocals, Written-By – Trixie Smith

A6 	–Clara Smith 	The L & N Blues

Piano – Lemuel Fowler
Vocals – Clara Smith
Written By – P. Henri

A7 	–Bertha Chippie Hill 	Panama Limited Blues

Banjo – Johnny St. Cyr
Clarinet, Alto Saxophone – Artie Starks
Cornet – Shirley Clay
Drums – Cliff Jones
Trombone – Preston Jackson
Vocals – Bertha Chippie Hill
Written-By – Richard M. Jones

A8 	–Ada Brown 	Panama Limited Blues

Banjo – Johnny St. Cyr
Clarinet, Alto Saxophone – Albert Nicholas
Piano – Luis Russell
Tenor Saxophone – Barney Bigard
Vocals – Ada Brown
Written-By – Richard M. Jones

B1 	–Sippie Wallace 	Mail Train Blues

Cornet – Louis Armstrong
Piano – Hersal Thomas
Vocals, Written-By – Sippie Wallace

B2 	–Martha Copeland 	Mr Brakeman Let Me Ride Your Train

Clarinet – Bob Fuller, Ernest Elliott
Piano, Written-By – Porter Grainger
Vocals – Martha Copeland

B3 	–Bessie Jackson 	T N & O Blues

Piano – Walter Roland
Vocals – Bessie Jackson
Written-By – Lucille Bogan

B4 	–Lucille Bogan 		I Hate That Train Called The M & O

Guitar – Unknown Artist
Guitar [Second] – Unknown Artist
Vocals, Written-By – Lucille Bogan

B5 	–Blue Lou Barker 	He Caught That B & O

Danny Barker's Fly Cats
Bass – Wellman Braud
Clarinet – Buster Bailey
Drums – Unknown Artist
Guitar – Danny Barker
Piano – Sammy Price
Trumpet – Henry Red Allen
Vocals – Blue Lou Barker
Written-By – Amos Easton

B6 	–Sister Rosetta Tharpe 		This Train

Vocals, Guitar – Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Written-By – Traditional

B7 	–Nora Lee King 		Cannon Ball

Pete Brown's Band
Alto Saxophone – Pete Brown
Bass – Charlie Drayton
Clarinet – Jimmy Hamilton
Drums – Roy Nathan
Piano – Sammy Price
Trumpet – Dizzy Gillespie
Vocals – Nora Lee King
Written-By – Williams, King, Price

 

Hats off to Rosetta Reitz for putting together an incredible catalog of women's classic blues on her Rosetta label. Besides filling a glaring gap in the blues record bins, the label's various compilations and single-artist discs feature both well-known and obscure female blues singers, bringing to life a black woman's take on a world defined in many ways by the great migration of southern blacks to northern cities like Chicago and New York (mainly to escape draconian Jim Crow laws and find better paying jobs). Primarily covering the 1920s and '30s, this fine collection in the label's Women's Heritage Series chronicles the plight of women left behind as thousands of husbands "rode the blinds" north.

While these New York and Chicago-recorded sides reveal that many of the singers here had some means to make the train fares, most southern black women were too poor to come up with the money or not generally willing to risk death jumping a freight. Beautifully illustrating the split between the obvious attraction to railroad lore and the anguish of denial, the narrative of Clara Smith's "Freight Train Blues" switches from an impressionistic chronicle of boxcars and brakemen to the harsh reality of a woman crying alone back home when her man beats the blues by catching a train. And while most of the songs here, including Trixie Smith's "Choo Choo Blues" and Blue Lou Barker's "He Caught That B&O," mirror similar sentiments, one also hears Martha Copeland's chronicle of a southern woman's desire to escape the chill of the north and return to Alabama and her man, as well as Sister Rosetta Tharpe's mythical casting of the train as a means to heaven.

Beyond sociological concerns, this collection contains some of the most enjoyable blues on record, taking in the work of stars like Bessie Smith and Sippie Wallace along with tracks by less well-known, but equally impressive, singers like Nora Lee King and Bessie Jackson. The album's cast of jazz musicians (the standard support for these and other classic blues divas) is superb as well, and includes Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Don Redman, Henry "Red" Allen, and Dizzy Gillespie. From voice to horn and gruff to sweet, this essential collection reveals a rich world of blues expression often overlooked. ---Stephen Cook, Rovi

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