ESCAPE FROM THE CHICKEN COOP
NORTHERN BLUES (NBM0054)
Caterpillar Whine, Skinny Women And Fat Cigars, You See Me Like I See You, Wreck On The Highway, Friends On The Porch, Should Have Done More, Hank Williams You Wrote My Life, America's Wives, The Way I Am, It's Never Too Hard To Be Humble, 300 Miles, Truck Drivin' Songs, 18 Wheeler.
You might think that Watermelon Slim is a blues man to the bone but on ‘Escape from the Chicken Coop' he shows his country roots by digging deep into all the stuff you expect like truck driving, wrecks on the highway, eighteen wheelers, defeated wives and themes that Slim must be personally familiar with as he was himself a trucker in a previous life.
For this CD, Northern Blues took him down South and hooked him up with Nashville's finest musicians including John Prine's favourite songwriter Gary Nicholson and a couple of boys from Delbert McClinton's band. They stormed into the studio and played the hell out of Slim's new batch of blue collar working man's songs inspired by Hank Williams, Roy Acuff and Dave Dudley.
The result is good old-fashioned, tough country music with the emphasis firmly on hard times. Slim's slide guitar injects just the right amount of pathos into songs like The Way I Am and Never Too Hard To Be Humble although it slams in with a vengeance on the good old fashioned rocker Caterpillar Whine which drives along like something Lowell George might have thought up. And he's possibly come up with a new trucker's anthem in 18,18 Wheeler - a snappy, diesel powered piece worked hard by a pounding piano, frenetic fiddle playing and Slim's smoky vocals.
The whole album resonates with a big fat sound filled with fiddles, steel guitars, fiery guitar work from Kenny Greenberg and Rob Neiley and of course, Slim's hard driving slide guitar and harmonica together with great vocals, wry humour and the sheer exuberance you always find in a Watermelon Slim album.
I was surprised he turned country on this CD but by crikey - it's a good ‘un. I'm just as thrilled with this as any of his previous releases.
Review Date: September 2009