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Various Artists 

Hot Women (Kein & Aber)

On Hot Women, infamous comic-illustrator Robert Crumb curates a remarkably cohesive collection of early 20th-century songs from his collection of 78 rpm records handpicked for their obscurity and his subsequent joy in discovering them. For him, "torrid" refers to chanteuses from places such as Mexico, Brazil, Africa, Greece, and Tahiti, areas where steamy temperatures and inflamed passions are easily imagined.

The beautifully drawn packaging and liner notes are all done by Crumb. The latter read almost like a charming term paper for which he tried to dig up as much information on these little-known artists as possible -- and had no choice but to freely admit that he came up short. There's something pleasing and unifying about all these songs, but they don't exactly fit the modern notion of sexy (which isn't really his concern). The overall impression is of a cheerful ethnological tour, rather than something terribly forbidden, but that's because the passage of time has rendered these selections much sweeter than they were in their day.

More by Tamara Palmer


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