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Cocaine, what is that? Some kind of bad habit? - Mance Lipscomb, intro to Cocaine Done Killed My Baby, Live At The Cabale

Author Topic: Sunnyland Slim-Long Tall Daddy  (Read 945 times)

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Offline Slack

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Sunnyland Slim-Long Tall Daddy
« on: November 17, 2011, 06:25:00 PM »
Sunnyland Slim-Long Tall Daddy   
Written by John Miller

Sunnyland Slim-Long Tall Daddy, Arcola Records A CD 1006   
      
The Blues pianist and singer Albert "Sunnyland Slim" Luandrew was born in 1907 near Vance, Mississippi, 20-30 miles southeast of Clarksdale, and died on March 17, 1995.  A listing of performers with whom he played or recorded over the course of his career reads like a "Who's Who" of Blues musicians from the '30s on up to the '80s and '90s, with Little Brother Montgomery, Roosevelt Sykes, Lonnie Johnson, Robert Johnson, Bill Broonzy, Sonny Boys I and II, Muddy Waters, and Robert Lockwood, Jr. numbered among them.  This CD captures a session recorded by Arcola founder Bob West aboard his houseboat on May 7, 1976, during a trip Slim was paying to Seattle accompanied by the youthful Sarah Streeter, who was later to gain recognition as the Chicago blues singer Big Time Sarah.
Slim opens the program with "I'm Tore Up", a rollicking shuffle that lays its cards right on the table:  "I'm tore up, people just as drunk as I can be".  Slim's musical strengths similarly are on display from the word go.  His time is really strong, his reach quite large, and he likes thick scrunchy chordal voicings.  He particularly likes to employ tremolo with the sustain pedal depressed.  That sound reminds me a bit of the great South African Jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim.  Slim is a really strong player here, but to my ears, at least, an even stronger singer, superlative, in fact.  He has that beautiful sort of "horn for a voice" shared by such fellow piano greats as Roosevelt Sykes and Big Joe Duskin. 

"Going Back To Memphis" shares it's melody with ".44 Blues" or "Brownsville Blues".  "The Devil Is A Busy Man", a Sykes number, advises you to watch out!  Slim's version of "Dust My Blues" really pins your ears back when he enters with the vocal, it is so powerful.  I always kind of felt as though that song could have been retired after Elmore James's version, but Sunnyland Slim gives Elmore a run for his money.  Speckled Red's "The Dirty Dozens" ("Dirty Mother Fuyer") is done in an abbreviated version with an informative explanation of God's thoughts and reasoning in creating the elephant's anatomy.  Two beautiful slow Blues, "Smile On My Face" and Leroy Carr's "Prison Bound Blues" follow, with Slim particularly shining in his vocal/instrumental interplay on "Prison Bound".  Big Time Sarah takes over vocal chores for "Long Tall Daddy" ("Long Tall Daddy, why you always hangin' 'round?") and "Got to See My Baby".  Her singing is a treat, real Blues singing, and I especially appreciate the fact that Sarah does not try to turn the Blues into Gospel as do so many present-day singers.  Slim rounds out the program with "Sarah Lee" ("She's so soft and mellow"), an epic version of "Roll and Tumble" that shares it's accompaniment and several verses with "Going Back To Memphis" from earlier in the program and, finally, "Slim's Boogie", which he follows with a scary Woody Woodpecker laugh.

A number of the songs on the CD, especially early in the program, are preceded by fairly lengthy spoken introductions by Slim.  Slim is wonderfully gracious and has great instincts as a story-teller, but a couple of these talking tracks have a rather jumbled narrative flow and get bogged down in name-dropping.  They all contain some great stuff, though, and it gives a truer picture to include them intact rather than subject them to a lot of editing in the interest of achieving greater clarity.

This is a strong CD with very good Blues piano and outstandingly good singing.  It showcases a veteran Blues player at a time in his life when he was utterly at home with his musical style and language, and also captures some of the earliest recorded efforts of a young musician forging her own way with the music.  Highly recommended.

PROGRAM:  I'm Tore Up; Talking; Going Back To Memphis; Talking; The Devil Is A Busy Man; Talking; Dust My Broon; Talking; The Dirty Dozens; Smile On My Face; Prison Bound Blues; Long Tall Daddy; Got To See My Baby; Talking; Sarah Lee; Roll and Tumble Blues; Slim's Boogie
« Last Edit: December 13, 2014, 08:29:15 AM by Slack »