Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Blue Lu Barker [extended]

  • Don't You Feel My Leg [Delmark, 1996] *
  • 1946-1949 [Classics, 2000] A-
  • Remastered Collection [J. Joes J. Edizioni Musicali, 2015] A-

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Blue Lu Barker, Wee Bea Booze, and Baby Dee: Don't You Feel My Leg [Delmark, 1996]
half a century later, sex as pleasure, respite, gift, medium of exchange, and cliche ("Don't You Feel My Leg," "Buy Me Some Juice," "I Feel Like Laying in Another Woman's Husband's Arms") *

1946-1949 [Classics, 2000]
This 24-track selection complements and then some the Remastered Collection download I reviewed on a different "label" in 2018. Near as I can tell, owning both will make you a Blue Lu Barker completist. These 24 post-WWII tracks are more polished than the 21 on Remastered Collection (a/k/a 1938-1939)--check the relaxed New Orleans polyphony that frolics through "There Was a L'il Mouse." By sexist blues mama standards, the thirtysomething Barker sounds girlish and slight--no shout, no grit, no phlegm. But her sass and eroticism are baked in. Whether "Layin' in Jail" because she shot the cheater she'd just bought a $100 suit or insisting you "Loan Me Your Husband" because he "looks so kind," she sticks up for herself. And almost never does she stick herself with a generic song. A-

Remastered Collection [J. Joes J. Edizioni Musicali, 2015]
These 21 calm, playful numbers include only five of the ones Muldaur picked. They average just under three minutes rather than just under four and are slighter in other ways too. Unpretentious but not unsophisticated, Barker's light, unslurred mezzo was admired by none other than fellow non-belter Billie Holiday. Often backed by New York pros more understated than their counterparts back in New Orleans, she's slyer than a first listen suggests--give her some time and her originality will stand there hands on hips until you notice. Unlike Holiday, Barker wrote a lot of her own material, but she also knew when Andy Razaf or Lil Hardin came up with a good one. She's too wise for you to jive, and you're too dumb to realize. She got the jitterbug blues and she's looking for someplace to dip. A-