PE0173. MARION HARRIS: The Queen of the Blues, Vol. I, incl. 22 celebrated Marion Harris titles. (Australia) Audio Vault AVBSMH01/02-08-22.
“Marion Harris began her career singing in the tradition of the ‘coon shouters’ of old, like Sophie Tucker. But she emerged as one of the hottest female jazz singers of the age, putting her stamp on future classics, such as ‘I Ain't Got Nobody Much’, her signature song, ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find’ (later a big hit for Bessie Smith) and ‘After You've Gone’, which was among the first versions of the Creamer and Layton standard, and which remains, by many accounts, the strongest recording of the classic.
When Marion Harris recorded songs about African-Americans enlisting to fight in the Great War, her press made much of her ability to sing in a natural dialect, because she was from Kentucky. This is evident on ‘Good-Bye Alexander (Good-Bye Honey Boy)’, which includes a long spoken routine in the middle of the song. Two other war songs show her versatility: the pathetic (and crude by today's standards) ‘Mammy's Chocolate Soldier’ and the rousing ‘When Alexander Takes His Ragtime Band to France’.
Harris' signing of an exclusive contract with Columbia in 1920 was an event. When she signed with Brunswick in 1922, the label featured her on the cover of their late-year supplement. So it was as a seasoned star in full maturity that Harris returned to Victor in 1927 to record two songs, ‘The Man I Love’, by George and Ira Gershwin, and ‘Did You Mean It?’. Marion's version of the former was one of the first to be released, put out by Victor in March 1928. With beautiful accompaniment by violinist Eddie South and pianist and accordion player Phil Baker, the veteran singer is heard on these last two selections in full possession of her powers, a towering figure whose influence on other singers of the period, such as Ruth Etting and Annette Hanshaw, is incalculable."
-Zillah Dorset Akron