CD1 Mistake In Life Slim’s Boogie Cheatin’ Around Rockin’ The House Lend Me Yo
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Memphis Slim - Rockin’ The House – The Best Of The R & B Years 2CD (CD)€18,00
The Best Of The R&B Years – Dazzling R&B piano pioneer Memphis Slim is the subject of the latest release in Fantastic Voyage’s highly-popular Definitive Collection series of blues sets.
Compiled and annotated by blues authority Neil Slaven, the two discs of Rockin’ The House straddle Slim’s post-war years up until he became one of the foremost figures in the early ’60s folk-blues revival, spotlighting his top-notch R&B band. The 50 tracks take in recordings he made for labels such as Hy-Tone, Miracle, Premium, Mercury, Peacock, United, Vee-Jay, United Artists and Strand, and include all seven of his R&B hits Born John L. Chatman in Memphis in 1915, Slim cut his musical teeth playing anywhere from levee camps to Arkansas roadhouses then Beale Street bars, mentored by Roosevelt Sykes. He arrived in Chicago in 1937, initially bootlegging whiskey, said to have been a pimp, playing piano to pay for his gambling until cutting several singles and hooking up with Big Bill Broonzy in 1940. After World War Two, Slim started leading his R&B band, which, at times, boasted the great bassist-songwriter Willie Dixon and future Blues Brother Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy.
The compilation starts in 1946 with ‘Mistake In Life’, Slim’s first release on the local Hy-Tone label, followed by further tracks for the label including the rollicking ‘Slim’s Boogie’ and trademark melancholic blues template ‘Cheatin’ Around’. He first encountered Willie Dixon recording for the Miracle label, the pair sparking their relationship on the blistering ‘Rockin’ The House’ and sublime ‘Lend Me Your Love’. From here the highlights come thick and fast: hits for Miracle, including chart-topping ‘Messin’ Around’, ‘Blue And Lonesome‘, ‘Help Me Some’, ‘Angel Child’, sonorous Premium release ‘Mother Earth’, ‘The Come Back’ (predating the stop-start groove of ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’), the autobiographical boogie of ‘Harlem Bound’, sax-enhanced outings such as ‘Train Is Comin’’, ‘Worried Life Blues’ (as covered by Keith Richards), lascivious Nick Cave fave ‘Grinder Man Blues’, the steaming vamp of ‘Steppin’ Out’ (later Eric Clapton’s showstopping showcase with John Mayall) and aching ‘Nobody Loves Me’ (the original title by which he first recorded the classic ‘Every Day I Have The Blues’, as made famous by B.B. King). The early 1950s tracks with Murphy’s riveting guitar to the fore are also represented, through to later sessions for Vee-Jay and three tracks from the 1959 Carnegie Hall concert with Muddy Waters which marked the start of the blues’ burgeoning acceptance by white audiences. From levee camps and roadhouses to Beale Street and white clubs, Slim was working his way up and was early in the charge as blues ambassador to Europe, recording several albums there before returning to Chicago to cut an exemplary batch of songs including ‘Lonesome (Blue Blues)’, ‘Four Walls’, ’Big Bertha’ and ’I’ll Keep Singing The Blues’. Based in Paris from 1962 until his death in 1988, he left a voluminous and captivating recorded legacy, of which one of its most fertile and seminal stretches is featured on this stellar set.