If you buy only one acoustic blues album this year, why not a best-of from a self-affirming trio of feisty females? Culled from six previous Alligator albums, Deluxe Edition by Saffirethe Uppity Blues Women lets these slightly gray ladies strut their top-drawer vocal and instrumental licks on an array of sassy originals and vintage covers reverentially resurrecting the "wild woman" legacy of Victoria Spivey, Ma Rainey, Sippie Wallace, and Bessie Smith. Where contemporary pop "bad girls" from Shakira to the Pussycat Dolls evoke the sensuality and spunk of the blues but none of its wisdom, Saffire lyrics provide all three. Their allegorical "Silver Beaver" is as sexually explicit as anything Lil' Kim or Foxy Brown might record, just more elegantly phrased. As players they embrace every shade of difference between country, urban, and vaudeville blues, even veering toward country swing and gypsy jazz in "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby." Omni-American and young at heart, Gayle, Anne, and Andra are as soulful as Alicia Keys, as defiant as the Runaways, and as heroic as the Dixie Chicks, with none of the career drawbacks of callow youth.
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