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Political activist and sex symbol, downhome bluesman and urbane stylist, Josh White’s credentials as a genuine representative of Southern blues and gospel traditions were undeniable. Empty Bed Blues was his final record for Elektra, and this reissue should help reestablish a place in music history for this remarkable musician who has received relatively scant attention in blues circles over the past decades. With Elektra White rode the wave of the ’60s folk revival, subsequently becoming one of the most popular performers on college campuses. With hundreds of amateurs jumping on the folk music bandwagon, White stood out with his brilliant guitar work, radiant stage presence, and seasoned professionalism. White relied on his past repertoire — songs that were unfamiliar to his new audience and beloved by his old fans. All of the songs on Empty Bed Blues (except the Bessie Smith-associated title track) had been recorded by White during the ’30s and ’40s, and despite the sexy cover, only half dealt with secular themes: “Mother On That Train” was originally recorded by White’s mentor Blind Joe Taggart, while the other four religious songs were popular in the jubilee tradition; a 1935 single by White had paired “Home In That Rock” and “Paul and Silas”; on the blues side, “Backwater Blues” is another classic from the Bessie Smith songbook, while the standard “Bottle Up And Go” is associated with the Memphis Jug Band and Tommy McClennan; the White composition “Baby Baby Blues” was initially recorded by the white stage singer Libby Holman, with whom White toured and recorded in the ’40s; and “That Suits Me” was originally cut by White in 1934. • Liner notes by Scott Barretta, editor of Living Blues • Reissue from the ’60s folk revival, led by Elektra, from whom this was licensed • Old-time folk classics interpreted by a legend