Texas Slim - Driving Blues
13 songs; 51:13 minutes; Splendid
Style: Texas Blues, Rock and Roll
When Dallas TX native Texas Slim (born Robert "Robin" Sullivan, 1963) went to Plano TX to play, he asked the crowd what they wanted to hear. Their response, "Nothing fancy; just some plano Texas Blues."
First occurring in the 1920s, "Texas Blues" featured guitar work that mimicked the vocals rather than merely accompanying them. Lyrics relied less on love, unfaithfulness, and heartbreak than other Blues forms. By 1946, a fully electric style featured single-string soloing over predominantly horn-driven backing - "Electric" Texas Blues. By the 1970s and 80s, Roadhouse Texas Blues became most prominent with even more emphasis placed on the lead guitar work and with artists performing in duos and power trios, minus horns. Thus, the eye opening musical world introduced to an 8th grade Sullivan when he first heard the Blues.
By age 15, Slim got serious tutelage when he met and played with the great Alex Moore, who first recorded in 1929. Later, at age 20, a career developing partnership with Little Joe Blue began. 2002 saw the release of his second solo effort "I Have Arrived." By today, Texas Slim considers himself to be a "Blues lifer." He toured Europe as a solo act this past summer and tours nationally and internationally with E.C. Scott. Otherwise, his is found playing with his own group, The Love Machine Band.
"Driving Blues" features drummer/producer Aaron Comess (Spin Doctors), Alan Comess and Pat Daugherty on keyboards, and Todd Horton playing trumpet on two songs. All songs are Texas Slim originals.
This week on my radio show, I played "Deville" which became my favorite track at first listen. A cool, jazzy, radio-ready number, "Deville" is a mid-tempo ode to a warm, comfortable night spot that’s perfect at "3 O’clock in the morning when it’s freezing cold outside." Slim sings in a slightly gravelly voice that channels Tom Waits at that particular time slot. Deft solos above the smooth mesh come from Slim’s guitars, Horton’s muted trumpet, and Daugherty’s electric piano. If you thought SRV’s "Lenny" and "Riviera Paradise" were cool but needed lyrics, then you’ll dig this tune.
Next week, I’ll play the next song, "When It’s Cold Outside." A romping shuffle with opening Texas guitar defining the term, this song is a dance floor filler. The groove is infectious, and the lead guitar is slicing and nasty with Slim alternately soloing and punctuating the end of each vocal line.
Burning slow Blues time: "High Alert" with lyrics about the day’s current events on the nightly news being the same old story, "The President tells us to watch out / We’re on a High Alert for the Blues." Another noteworthy slow track with perhaps Slim’s best vocal rendering is "Three Bridges."
Changing the pace, track nine, "Coffee Shop Girl" is a Rock and Roll number with some fun Chuck Berry sounding licks.
Elsewhere, the set opener "Welcome to the Game" has clever lyrics about the dating game in the age of modern technology ("...hope you catch on quick..."). The title track is, indeed, a driving number that had European audiences writing accolades in the guestbook on Slim’s website. For fans of Dobro guitar music, Slim puts the steel slide to the steel strings on "Country Home" and "And It Is." The former sounds like it was influenced by Neil Young’s "Homegrown." The latter finds Slim himself adding an organ track to the Dobro.
Texas Slim has been a regional artist, but he is breaking nationally, and now internationally, with tours and this recording. Seriously, fans of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s jazzy numbers owe it to themselves to get this CD and play "Deville." If you do not dig it, I will personally fax you a check to refund your money.
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Thursdays from 7 - 8 pm and Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL
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