Alanna Nash
May 19, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Complete Vanguard Recordings

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Big Mama Thornton
genre
Blues, Reissues

We gave it a B+

Modern blues fans who think Willie Mae Thornton is a moldy curiosity have a surprise coming. Best known for the version of ”Hound Dog” that inspired Elvis — and for writing ”Ball and Chain,” copped by Janis Joplin — the gruff-voiced, attitudinal Thornton remained vibrant until her death. The three-CD set The Complete Vanguard Recordings includes the previously unreleased Big Mama Swings, a thrilling, staggering 1975 album that redefines Big Mama Thornton’s considerable legend. B+

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