This contains straight-up reissues of two of T-Bone's Imperial albums, themselves merely collections of the original 78s. Everything on these 24 sides was recorded between 1950 and 1954 – not as trailblazing a period as the one from 1946 to 1947 on Black and White, but still prime T-Bone by any yardstick. The majority of these sides were cut in Los Angeles, with the exception of the New Orleans-recorded "I'm Still in Love With You" and the Windy City cut of "Bye Bye Baby." Loads of great T-Bone guitar and a cool West Coast sound to most everything on here make this an important addition to anyone's blues collection.
Born Elinore Harris, Billie Holiday had a difficult teen and young adulthood period, which included working in brothels, both as a cleaning woman and a prostitute, and being raped. Through this difficulty, she dreamed of becoming a jazz singer. She got her initial singing break when she applied at a Harlem club that was looking for a dancer, but where she got hired as a singer. There, she met and fell in love with the suave Louis McKay.
These days she's known as the Queen of Soul, and indeed has been since she came to the fore belting out such well known hits as 'Respect', 'Chain Of Fools' and 'Say A Little Prayer' in the late '60s, scoring no less than ten Top 10 hits over an 18-month period from 1967-68. The rarely heard but strikingly effective recordings on 'The Early Years' come from a period when Franklin was signed to Columbia Records and offer a unique insight into the development of this amazing artist. Unlike SPV's companion piece, 'Aretha Sings The Blues', which as the title implies concentrates on a selection of blues-based recordings, 'The Early Years' is notable for the range of styles, from pop, blues, jazz, gospel and soul, that the young Franklin was able to instil into her music with the air of a seasoned veteran.
Diana Ross plays the magnificent, tragic song stylist Billie Holiday, who while writhing in a strait jacket in a prison cell, awaiting sentencing on drug charges, reflects on her turbulent life. Raped in her youth by a drunk (Adolph Caesar), then compelled to work as a domestic in a Harlem whorehouse, Holliday is encouraged to try for a singing career by the bordello's pianist (Richard Pryor). She rises as high as it is possible to go in the white-dominated show business world of the 1930s, but can't handle the pressure and turns to narcotics. The film takes several liberties with the 44-year existence of "Lady Day." Among the Billie Holiday standards performed by Ross are "My Man," "I Cried for You," "Lover Man," "Them There Eyes," and the title song.