Reviewed by Paul Poulton
I'd better come clean straight away and state that I'm a big fan of the good sister, though some may question the exact meaning of the word "good" regarding Rosetta. Well, for one her guitar playing is certainly good. She learned how to handle a six-string at the age of six and it's not any lady-like folk finger-picking either. No, she knows how to get a blues bend, sending the fourth up to the fifth (and that's not easy for some men to do), it's a feat, especially at a time when guitar strings were nowhere near as precise and comfortable as they are now. During the three years of this compilation, her playing veers between the stomp/major scale playing typified by the Rev Gary Davis and the emerging blues scene which some church players came to from the "crossroads", they let rip and invented the blues scale. It's the same with Rosetta's singing, which by the way, is also "good", some excellent blues phrases crop up, but she also leans towards traditional major tonality, which makes the vocal blues licks all the more superb. Being a mean-guitar playing lady probably gave her the "so what" attitude, "I'm already in trouble I may as well say what I want" and she did, to the Church and to the world at large, whether playing in the Cotton Club or a church. So we get to hear that God don't like moonshine, and that she's going to cry four or five times, that there's a darn good reason why a woman starts crying, but there' ain't no reason why a bird can't swing, plus a bunch of other intriguing subjects. Her songs recorded with the Lucky Millinder Orchestra are superb; they fatten up the backing and lose none of the energy or excitement of her solo tracks. 1938-1941 is too early to hear her great and famous song "Strange Things" which came out later but there's nothing here that isn't valuable.
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