Lucille Bogan Shave ‘Em Dry: The Best of

Shave ‘Em Dry may be the most concise reissue of the music recorded by Birmingham, Alabama’s Lucille Bogan during the 1930s. By that time Bogan, who has also seen her music reissued under the name Bessie Jackson, had already recorded for nearly a decade, but this collection concentrates on the material Bogan recorded during a span in 1933 to ’35. The songs are mostly piano-accompanied blues that deal with drugs, sex and the depression that engulfed the world Bogan inhabited. The subject material for these songs is often grim. The tough, raunchy outlook of songs such as "Barbecue Bess” and "Shave ‘Em Dry” earned this reissue a Parental Advisory sticker on the cover, the first of its kind in the Columbia Legacy catalogue. But it Bogan’s honest, brutal lyrical content that makes the recording so fascinating. It’s almost shocking and scandalous to think about how these songs must have been reacted to at the time, but it’s a compelling document of a time long gone that is tougher and more hard-edged than any gangster rap record today. (Columbia)