Reviews | Roots Music Report

Album Review of
Killer Diller Blues
Memphis Minnie

Written by Joe Ross
May 7, 2018 - 12:00am EDT
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During Memphis Minnie’s long career spanning about five decades, the prolific blueswoman built a solid reputation full of critical acclaim and unqualified respect. Born in 1897 in Louisiana, she ran away from home and spent most of her teen years playing on street corners in Memphis. She had southern roots and popularity but also established herself as a Chicago blues musician. Big Bill Broonzy once called her the best woman guitarist he’d ever heard. She recorded for Columbia, Vocalion, Bluebird, Okeh, Regal, Checker, and JOB. Minnie’s earliest recordings (between 1929-34) were with first husband Kansas Joe McCoy. “Bumble Bee” opens the project, but several of her classics from this period aren’t included on this album that claims to be “her 24 best songs.” For example, it would’ve been nice to include her original version of “When the Levee Breaks,” a song later covered and credited to Led Zeppelin. With improved recording quality that makes lyrics easier to understand, this album also compiles 17 tracks from her later work (1935-53) with Black Bob (on piano), Little Son Joe (guitar) and others. A few offered highlights from that period include “Me and My Chauffeur Blues” and “Moaning the Blues” and “I Hate to See the Sun Go Down.” We thank Austria’s Wolf Records for keeping blues classics circulating. This is a good introduction to a great female guitarist and singer. If this sampler tickles your fancy, hunt down a set of her complete works.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)