Sunnyland Slim (1977) She Got That Jive (LP) Airway Records 4275

Sunnyland Slim

She Got That Jive 

1977

Airway Records 4275

*** Noteworthy


While he’d headed north to Memphis in the late 1920s, when he was in his early 20s and settled in Chicago in the late 1930s (Dahl), this 1977 outing is still soaked in the Mississippi mud of his rural birthplace.  It’s just dripping with it.


While he played with on countless classic Chicago blues dates and played alongside nearly every Chicago blues legend, and had in fact released plenty of his own sides, he never really became a household name for the casual listener.  Eventually he set up his own label, Airway, which released this set.  Likely they didn’t have all the latest studio technology and that just helps give this recording some nice basement sound that fits the blues like an old piano in the corner.

Mostly Slim and the band stick with slow and mid tempo numbers but get the thing chugging along like a fast train on the instrumental “Station Break.”  Along with the piano, Slim offers vocals on most of the cuts, Bonnie Lee lending her pipes to “Standing on the Corner.”  Fans of electric Chicago blues will likely find plenty to enjoy on this set.

— winch (author of )

Dahl, Bill.  “Sunnyland Slim.”  AMG to the Blues. 2nd Edition. 1999.

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Dale Hawkins (1999) Wildcat Tamer (LP) Mystic Records 54322-2

Dale Hawkins

Wildcat Tamer 

1999

Mystic Records 54322-2

*** noteworthy


Louisiana rhythm and blues, sounding like it was placed right where he was born, just west of where the Mississippi River empties into the voodoo swamp, just east of that Texas rodeo stomp, not so far from Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia, for fans of fast down-home electric blues, rootsy country or rockabilly.



Thirty years after the 60s, Dale’s first long-player since 1969, this picks up right where he left off, and even if we didn’t need an updated version of Susie-Q, this set doesn’t sound redundant or stuck in the past. Instead this just sounds like he was having himself some fun.

— winch (author of

 

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Toots Thielemans (1959) The Soul of Toots Thielemans (LP) Signature (SM 6006)

Toots Thielemans

The Soul of Toots Thieleman 

Recorded 1959, released 1960

Signature (SM 6006)

**** recommended

For this 1959 date, Toots is backed wonderfully with three Americans, Ray Bryant (Philly) on piano, Ray’s brother Tom on bass, and Oliver Jackson (Detroit) on drums, all the members helping to set the tone for the meeting and helping bringing Toots into their country, planting the sound deep into American soil, Ray getting plenty of time to get his piano into the conversation.


Of course, as the billing suggests, this is Toot’s album, his last name showing on all the credits of the originals on this set, his playing gracing every selection, the talented Toots alternates between harmonica and electric guitar, even whistling through his original “Brother John” that closes the set.


Toots shows he was not just an outstanding harmonica player, but a great guitar player as well–showing this clearly on cuts such as “Lonesome Road”–showing that the harmonica can color in a selection as much as any horn, and showing that the electric guitar can do the same. While blues and jazz guitar players revealed the ability for the guitar to offer rhythm and lead at the same time, adding electricity offered even more, making it easier for the guitar to fill in the song with colors much like horns had done for centuries.


This whole set is thoroughly enjoyable, a mix of originals by Toots and tunes by others—old tradition songs and jazz standards, Garner’s “Misty,” Reinhardt’s “Nuages,” and Parker’s “Confirmation”–the meeting laid back yet swinging, taut as a congregation yet relaxed as a Sunday afternoon, swinging like a porch swing with autumn in the air, the warmth of summer mixing with the latter parts of the year, youthful as young man, yet thoughtful as an elder. This might not be a great album, but it’s certainly a good one.

— winch (author of

 

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The Wedding Present (1989) Bizarro (LP) RCA 2173-1-R

The Wedding Present

Bizarro 

1989

RCA 2173-1-R

**** recommended


For this second set, guitarist/ vocalist David Gedge and his ever-changing line up go with a major label but continue with the three-chord rhythm-guitar rock, fast without losing the underground pop-rock rhythm, moving along like a commuter train, ringing like a warning bell by the tracks, looking back to England glory days of a decade earlier when some of the punks kept the energy while losing some (but not all) of the anger.

The set moves along like a roller coaster, mixing romance with bitterness, the safe with hints of scary, focusing on the fast but slowing down to pull you in, mostly fun but hints of menace to keep it interesting.  While it’s easy to hear influences, it’s even easier to hear how this likely influenced bands in the decades that followed.

— winch

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Moments (1976) Moments with You (LP) Stang 1030

Moments

Moments with You 

1976

Stang 1030

**** recommended


While the second side of this album is filled with forgettable attempts at disco funk produced and written by the group (Ray, Goodman, Brown), Side One is produced by Sylvia Robinson and filled with endless Carol Sager-penned gems for fans of that slow and mellow soul that came out of various East Coast cities in the late 60s and early 70s.


If you think they stopped making mellow magic once disco hit town, check out the first side on this Bicentennial-year offering.  This side doesn’t have a weak moment and might have been the best side this group offered in the ten years of their existence (1968 – 1978).  It’s also another feather in Sylvia’s many-feathered hat.

— winch (author of

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