Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Magic Slim Rockin' Zoo Bar Blues

Here is another vintage Magic Slim review. It appeared in the November 1996 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 216). I have made a few minor stylistic changes. I believe I purchased this CD.

Magic Slim & The Teardrops Are among the blues most prolific recording artists, with numerous albums on a variety of labels. They will have a new Blind Pig album later this fall or early next year. Austrian Wolf Records recently issued Spider In My Stew/the Zoo Bar Collection Volume 4 consisting of 1980s live recordings from the famous Lincoln, Nebraska club. Despite the similarity in tempos (many being mid-tempo boogaloo-Jimmy Reed shuffles), and a somewhat restricted musical palette, Magic Slim has been able to build a loyal and growing following partly due to the Teardrops’ ability to lay down a consistent driving groove.

One surprise here is a very fine, slow-drag tempo used on the late Buster Benton’s Spider in My Stew. If lacking a great vocal range, his subtle embellishments can be quite powerful. If Slim is not one of the virtuoso blues guitarists, his driving, stinging attack is supported by a tight groove keeps the dance floor full with a tempo that never is rushed or hurried. There is plenty of familiar material here including Standin’ on the Highway, which Slim has recorded previously and he rocks through its easy shuffle groove.

A singer, Earlene Owens, guests on a medley of blues classics, while Slim’s eclecticism is found in his renditions of other classics like a driving shuffle take of Eddie Miller’s (I’d Rather) Drink Muddy Water, where he exhorts the audience to a call and response, before launching into a hard driving solo. He engages in broomdusting on Walkin’ Cane (a retitled Look On Yonder’s Wall), while gives a smoky blues cast to Ivory Joe Hunter’s Since I Met You Baby.

After rocking J.B. Lenoir’s Mojo Boogie, with a raspy vocal, this excellent live recording concludes with Slim’s own affirmation of Little Milton’s The Blues Are All Right. In Magic Slim’s hands the blues certainly are all right, and this is among the better of his recordings that this writer has heard.

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