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Magic Slim & the Teardrops - Bad Boy

Blind Pig Records

12 tracks/44:42

There are few constants in life. Everyone has heard the old adage about death and taxes – and we all get daily reminders about sunrise and sunset. Right now some of you might want to include the one about how can you tell if a politician is lying – if his lips are moving!

Most musicians who are able to build a successful career reach a point where they decide to tempt fate and spread their wings by extending the reach of their personal musical universe. The risk is that your established audience may not understand or appreciate the new direction, breaking the bond that the musician has worked long and hard to develop.

That has never been something that Magic Slim has had to worry about in the forty-five years since he formed the Teardrops. You can always count on Slim to deliver a potent batch of hard-driving blues tunes that show no mercy. Slim has never abandoned the lessons he learned from Magic Sam, coming up with his own sound and sticking to the deep, raw blues feel that earned him a steady gig at Florence's, the legendary club on Chicago's South side, back in the 70's.

There have been plenty of members in the Teardrops over the years including Slim's late brother Nick on bass plus Alabama Jr. Pettis, John Primer and James Wheeler on guitar. No matter who is in the band, they have always delivered a tight groove with a propulsive drive that just won't quit. The other constants are Slim's muscular vocals and his vibrato-laden, biting guitar tone that separates him from the pack.

All the pieces are in place on the title track, which opens the proceedings in fine fashion with Slim's gritty vocal playing off the backing vocals from the Teardrops. Bass player Andre Howard's voice sounds almost angelic compared to the leader's dark tone as they share the lead on Denise's LaSalle's “ Someone Else Been Steppin' In”. Slim's jagged guitar lines are a highlight on Detroit Jr.'s “I Got Money” while on “Sunrise Blues”, a Slim original, the Teardrops settle into one of their patented, steady-rolling grooves while Slim details his pain over issues with his woman. The pace picks up on 'Girl What You Want Me to Do” with BJ Jones laying down a fast shuffle beat.

Other highlights include a stellar take of Roy Brown's “Hard Luck Blues” with more of Slim's trademark guitar and a spell-binding rendition of Muddy Water's “Champagne and Reefer”. Another original, “Gambling Blues”, provides a memorable kick. The band steamrolls their way through Lil' Ed's “Older Woman” while Slim once again shows that, even at the age of seventy-five, he can still wrestled plenty of primal sounds from his guitar. Slim and rhythm guitarist Jon McDonald trade licks on the closing instrumental, “Country Joyride”.

If you have been a long-time fan, you know exactly what to expect from this release – and Magic Slim does not disappoint. Currently, he is probably the best at playing the traditional style of electric blues, when the music made the jump from the Delta to the city. This one should be played loud – and comes strongly recommended!

Reviewer Mark Thompson retired after twelve years as president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. and moved to Florida. He has been listening to music of all kinds for over fifty years. Favorite musicians include Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Magic Slim, Magic Sam, Charles Mingus and Count Basie.

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