Thursday, June 28, 2012

Excellent If Not The Essential Magic Slim

Morris Holt, best known as Magic Slim, has had a celebrated recording career over 40 years, and rarely produced a blues record that was merely good. It is misleading for Blind Pig to call the compilation of some of the best tracks from his half dozen or so Blind Pig albums, The Essential Magic Slim since any compilation of Slim’s recordings that do not span his entire career including the superb records that have been issued on Rooster Blues, Alligator and the Austrian Wolf label can hardly be called Essential. Best of Magic Slim on Blind Pig would be more accurate.

This is not to say that the music here is substandard. In fact the music here is typical of the hard-driving rocking Chicago blues that Slim has been producing since his 1966 45 of Scufflin’. Opening with a rocking rendition of Bo Diddley’s Before You Accuse Me, rocketing through the terrific shuffle, Mind Your Own Business and continuing with a driving updating of Jimmy McCracklin’s Think, Magic Slim forcefully delivers his lyrics while laying down some stringing guitar. He is one of the few who can produce a listenable Mustang Sally while going down in the alley on the slow groove of Crazy Woman. Those backing him here include guitarists John Primer, Steve Freund, Michael Dotson and Jon McDonald, with brother Nick Holt handling the bass on most of the 15 tracks.

This may not be “The Essential” Magic Slim, but it is an excellent introduction to his music if you are not familiar with his distinctive and recognizable style.

I wrote this review in 2007 for the DC Blues Calendar and Jazz & Blues Report but I am not sure if either publication ran it. I likely received a review copy from Blind Pig.

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