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Too Slim and the Taildraggers - Shiver

Underworld Records

12 songs; 54:00 minutes; Suggested

Styles: Patented Too Slim Music; Contemporary American Rock and Roll; “Alt-Country-Dirty-Rock with a Blues-Vibe”

Earworms: they are the songs and phrases from songs that get repetitively stuck in my head. But, the songs I hear are ones already in existence. Way beyond me is Tim “Too Slim” Langford who has creative vision to hear songs that do not yet exist. Slim begins hearing music in its embryonic stage and eventually knows what a song should sound like before it is ever recorded. For example, Langford told me he could hear Curtis Salgado singing “Everybody’s Got Something” before he ever invited Curtis to sing the lyrics.

Shiver with its 12 original songs is Langford’s most fully realized and most ambitious project yet. And, with 15 prior CDs, he has had lots of practice. Too Slim explained, “As the songwriter, I end up hearing the songs in a complete way [before they are recorded].” On previous CDs, “I ended up making compromises” due to hired producers and geographic distances preventing complete control. “On this one I felt like I knew exactly what I wanted, and I got it!” The album was produced, engineered, recorded, mixed and mastered in Langford’s home of Seattle WA enabling Too Slim to be there everyday. Plus, co-producer Conrad Uno at Egg Studios “had really good ears, and we hit it off like that! We were just always on the same page.”

Demonstrating Langford’s growth, maturity, and musical mastery, “Shiver” contains many firsts for a Too Slim and the Taildraggers CD. Bassist Polly O’Keary sings along with Too Slim on several numbers while the third Taildragger, Tommy Cook, provided all drums and percussion. Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff’s Texas Horns are very tastefully added to a few of the tracks while three background vocalists enhance two more cuts. A guest guitarist plays lead on the title track while Slim plays rhythm; it’s Langford’s adult son, Austin Elwood Langford. Guest vocalist Duffy Bishop also adds to the title track with traded vocal leads and a duet with Too Slim.

Having personally observed Too Slim’s career progress over the last 16 years and 13 albums, I feel qualified to pronounce “Shiver” a Tim Langford masterpiece. A full year’s effort went into the creation of this work, and the masterful song crafting is readily evident. It does invite fans of pure Blues to alternately open their Roots Rock arms, but when the Rock and Roll is this good, you got to love it! You may even wake up with it in your head in the morning.

Some Songs:
“Daddies Bones”-- The painstaking, master craftsmanship that went into this number make it one of the best songs. “... Bones” is a harrowing and chilling tale of death, organized crime, and betrayal. The chorus is a family's earnest plea: “If you find daddies bones, could you please send them home? Maybe we can save the farm if we can prove he's gone.” The unique guitar notes are coming from Too Slim's gold, hollow-body Gibson ES 295. “Daddies Bones” shows why it truly deserves to be an album called Shiver.

“Can't Dress It Up” -- Reality TV -- the reality is that many of its “stars” do anything but shine. “Why are you trying so hard to be what you're not? Why don't you just try to live in your own skin? When reality takes over, after your makeover, you're gonna see that you can't dress it up.” The Texas Horns here pump up the message with Too Slim’s patented rocked-up guitar sounds. In terms of wit and satire, “Can't Dress it Up” makes the cut but will probably get “voted off the island” by the “Jersey Shore” sycophants.

“I Heard Voices” and “Everybody’s Got Something” - - “I Heard Voices’s” 48 seconds serve as a smooth opening to “...Something.” Here Curtis Salgado’s award winning voice is joined by background vocalists, and some of Too Slim’s most melodic guitar joins Joe Doria’s B-3 organ in a Gospel-inspired, joyful number of hope and affirmation.

“She Sees Ghosts” -- There's nothing creepy about this delightful ditty, despite the paranormal. Too Slim's German Shepherd, will see something and follow it around. “You probably think it's a joke,” Slim sings half-apologetically. “...Ghosts” excels in an album full of catchy hooks, and check out Cook’s percussion solo, which gives off an auditory air of rattling bones. What does Shiloh really see? “The dog knows, but she won't give it up. I sure wish that dog could talk!”

“Shiver” -- The growling Rock guitar intro sets one's teeth on edge. However, when Too Slim's understated vocals weave their way followed by Duffy Bishop’s high pitched growl, that's when cold shivers crawl down the spine. We've all made unwise choices and tried to hide the proverbial “bones in the closet” that “make me want to run!” However, the consequences often continue to plague our psyches long after we've faced up to them. “Confessing won't help--it's with me forever. It haunts me still; I'm doomed to remember. It makes me shiver!”

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 Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL.  To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE.

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