Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Lil Green

  • Why Don't You Do Right? 1940-1942 [Historic, 1996] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Why Don't You Do Right? 1940-1942 [Historic, 1996]
Even more than Bessie Smith, this later as well as lesser blues singer--born 1919, recorded mostly pre-WW2, pursued sketchily documented r&b touring career until she died of pneumonia at 34--suffers from formulaic recording, and fortunate though she is that her formula included Bill Broonzy on guitar, she lacked melodic outreach even though she preferred pop structures to ye olde aab. Her signature is a sexuality that's sly and lascivious rather than hearty and lusty, put across by a willowy soprano that's ready for anything. Often anything means just what men hope it does, those dogs. But it can also mean patient affection and, if "Just Rockin'" says what I think it does, a thrilling night of self-gratification should her dog be out chasing pussy. If there's an ace compilation hidden in her catalogue, no one's talking, but this equally downloadable old French job beats the recent Lil's Big Hits (on K-Tel, I swear)--even improves on 1971's Romance in the Dark, assembled by the discerning Don Schlitten for RCA. By my count, about half its 23 tracks distinguish themselves as songs. The rest distinguish themselves as style only. B+