Absolutely amazing sound – Alberta is uncannily present and real on this copy. This is High Fidelity Top Quality Uncolored Studio Sound like few records you’ve heard.
And the crazy thing about Amtrak Blues is that it was recorded in 1980 (when Alberta was 83), not a decade we expect good sound to come from. But this is no ordinary recording. Behind the album is none other than legendary Columbia engineer FRANK LAICO.
Hearing is definitely believing, especially in our business — we don’t give a fig about who, why or when a record was made; we just play it and judge it based on what we hear in the grooves.
Needless to say, this pressing of the album was judged to be a knockout.
White Hot, open, clear and lively as any record you’ve heard in a very long while. The piano is solid and very dynamic. Practically nothing to fault in the sound. So natural and effortless, why do so few records sound like this?
Nearly as good. Listen to the second track to hear how vibrant and young she sounds. This is an 83 year old woman?
The sound gets better as it plays; by the second track it’s the equal of side one.
The Darktown Strutters Ball
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
I’m Having a Good Time
My Handy Man Ain’t Handy No More
Old Fashioned Love
Sweet Georgia Brown
A Good Man Is Hard to Find
I’ve Got a Mind to Ramble
Alberta Hunter’s second recording since launching her remarkable comeback (she was 83 when this album was cut) finds the veteran blues singer (a survivor of the 1920s) still in surprisingly strong form and full of spirit. Such songs as “Darktown Strutters’ Ball,” “My Handy Man,” “Old Fashioned Love” and “I’ve Got a Mind to Ramble” are given fine treatment by Hunter, who is joined by the Gerald Cook quartet, trombonist Vic Dickenson, trumpeter Doc Cheatham and tenorman Frank Wess on various tracks.
Alberta Hunter was a pioneering African-American popular singer whose path crosses the streams of jazz, blues and pop music. While she made important contributions to all of these stylistic genres, she is claimed exclusively by no single mode of endeavor. Hunter recorded in six decades of the twentieth century, and enjoyed a career in music that outlasted most human lives.
When Hunter retired from nursing in 1977, she was 81 and ready to go back on the road. By this time her voice was gritty, down and dirty, and her fans loved her for it. She made four albums for Columbia between 1977 and her death in 1984, including the extraordinary Amtrak Blues, and for many younger listeners these are the records by which Alberta Hunter is defined.
Alberta Hunter was one of the earliest African-American singers, along with Sippie Wallace, to make the transition from the lowly brothels and sporting houses into the international spotlight. That she defies easy categorization attests to the astonishing fact that she was on the scene a little before the genres themselves were defined.