Here is the latest installment in my series on small blues gems issued by the Music Maker Relief Foundation, Alabama Slim's "Blue & Lonesome" Slim was born Milton Frazier in Vance, Alabama in March, 1939. He grew up playing in juke joints before moving to New Orleans in 1965 and got jobs with a moving company and later making cooking oil before hooking up with his cousin Little Freddie King with whom he would jam ever so often. Drinking heavily for a period, he cleaned himself up in the 90's and resumed a close friendship with King. The pair have shared an album on Music Maker and Blue & Lonesome is a welcome solo disc by Slim who towers near 7 feet tall.
Slim is rooted in such artists as Lightnin' Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed and especially John lee Hooker, which is made clear in his rendition of Fannie Mae that opens this up a duet with Freddie followed by a Hooker-styled rendition of Muddy Waters' Someday Baby, and then on the invigorating Old Folks Boogie, a take on Hooker's Boogie Chillum, and Junior Parker's Feeling Good. Ardie Dean adds some light percussion for this performance on which Slim's controlled performance adds to its appeal. "Weather Done Got Cloudy," is the first of several tracks featuring him with a Huntsville, Alabama band and is a nice brooding blues in a Hooker-ish vein which has lyrical allusions to "Checking on My Baby."
Ain't I Been to You is a one chord Hooker styled blues that would sound at home in the North Mississippi Hills with some biting guitar runs. Joined by Freddie, West Texas Blues, is a nice song showcasing Slim's restrained, pleading style. Two O'Clock in the Morning is a spare Texas styled blues based on Lowell Fulson's Three O'Clock in the Morning. There is a bit more modern flavor on Has Anybody Seen My Baby, which sounds like as Hooker interpreting a B.B. King blues, while "I Love My Guitar" is a Hooker-styled boogie as Slim tells his woman not to get hooked on him as he loves nothing but his guitar. The album closes with I'm Blue and Lonesome, a lazy Jimmy Reed blues interpreted in a manner that John Lee Hooker might have.
Alabama Slim has produced an entertaining collection of blues with strong evidence of the influence of John Lee Hooker. While one might not call this essential, it should appeal to fans of post-war, down-home, country blues. It certainly caught this reviewer's ear.
I received this from the Music Maker's Relief Foundation as a donor to that organization. Visit www.musicmaker.org for information on purchasing this and other recordings as well as contribute to help blues and other roots musicians.