Various Artists "Oh, Run Into Me But Don?t Hurt Me!: Female Blues Singers 1923-1930"
?Oh Run Into Me But Don?t Hurt Me!? makes available twenty-four tracks by fourteen virtually unknown female blues singers, all recorded, as the title states between 1923 and 1930. Many of these singers, unfortunately only recorded the single side or two featured here and it's somewhat a shame to think that they?ve been hidden in obscurity for such a long time, as many of the tracks are delivered and played in a manner that could easily rival or supercede some of the more well known bluesmen of the same period. In many respects the women featured here were probably overlooked by record companies and the like, due to the fact that they were women dealing with somewhat inappropriate (by the time period's more puritan standards) themes, such as adultery, abandonment, drinking, plenty of sexual innuendo and other aspects of a debaucherous lifestyle. The songs are delivered throughout with a rather sharp, honest approach that belays a certain sensibility of the time period they were recorded in.
These songs are rough and tumble vignettes of hard drinking and rough lifestyles; a rather dark undertone rides its way through the tracks, though at the same time they are a far cry from laments. Essentially they?re all of a more upbeat nature. The downside to all this is that each track does not really discern itself from one to the next; the instrumentation, which is at points of the highest caliber, remains consistent throughout (piano, guitar, harmonica and occasionally some horns), while the vocal deliveries remain equally as unswerving. Nothing really stands out from track to track. This factor is not necessarily a complete drawback as the album has the capability of creating a wonderful sustained mood, yet as a compilation one, in many ways expects certain tracks to jump out drastically from others. In many respects the instrumentation tends to pop out more often than the vocalist. Again this may be in many respects due more to the blues tradition than to any lacking on behalf of the featured artists included here.
As far as personal favorites are concerned Monette Moore?s ?Somebody?s Been Lovin? My Babe? features some great vocals alongside what has to be the compilation's instrumental highlight, as the cornet player and the clarinet player trade some amazing solos concluding the composition. The cornet begins the sequence with a wonderful display of musicianship, but in truth it is the clarinet that really steals the show; beginning with a dissonant bellow followed up by some dark slinky progressions that capture the feeling and narrative song. Vocally speaking Martha Copeland takes a wonderfully soulful approach to ?Stole My Man Blues?.
Before concluding a final observation must be broached. This is in regards to the presentation of reissued works in a digital format. All of the featured tracks here were originally released and remastered from the original 78s. Which means that the sound quality really varies from track to track and in turn the veneer that these old sound sources contain capture a moment in time that tells the story of the object's history more than it does the music itself. Each crackle, scratch and speck of dust is immortalized in the digital format and plays such a key role to our current interpretation of these sounds. The crackles and hiss end up playing an equal definer of the music?s sonic character to the artists? vocals and instrumental arrangements. The dirty
quality of the recordings, whether intentional or simply an unavoidable part of the transfer process due to the quality of the available recording, lends itself to the darker, more personal trend, coarser and grittier
focus that the compilers declare they were looking for in the liner notes, so in essence it aids the recording while at the same time it becomes a simulacra of the original never really able to capture the artistic aura of the original.
All in all ?Oh, Run Into Me?" features a tasteful sampling of some rather obscure prewar voices, and functions nicely both as a digital archive as well as an enjoyable listening experience for those who lack the patience or the financing to pluck up original copies of rarities. 7/10 -- Cory Card (9 July, 2008)