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Dixie Frog (DFGCD8690)

Part Time Love, Breaking Up Somebody's Home, Do You Mean It, Cummins Prison Farm, Mama Talk To Your Daughter, I Can't Hold Out, Shame, Sunny Road Blues, Gonna Move To Kansas City, 4.59am, Treat Me The Way You Do.

If it ain't broke - don't fix it! Magic Slim plays the straight ahead electrified Mississippi based blues that he took to Chicago in the ‘50s. They still love him in the clubs and concert halls and he sells more records than any of his contemporaries because when he cranks up the band and starts pounding into good old fashioned thundering blues - there's no-one to touch him.

For this album, Slim decided to revisit some of the material that he's been ripping out in the clubs of America for the last thirty years. Songs like Elmore's devastating telephone blues Talk To Me Baby that romps along as Slim squeezes out the clanging riff, and his own composition Shame which is a funky piece of work with brisk bubbling bass lines holding down the rhythm while the two guitars get to grips with the bristling solos. 

Roosevelt Sykes' Sunny Road Blues slows things down and is a great vehicle for Slim's slashed out sparkling showers of pure blue guitar notes and gruff lived-in vocals. It may be the big fat guitar sound or Slim's desperation-packed lyrics, but this one might just be my favourite of the CD. But then again, Treat Me The Way You Do gets the whole treatment with a walloping beat from bass and drums rumbling along loudly while Slim shouts out the vocals and slowly builds up to solo time when he lets rip with a cascading flow of licks, riffs and bent strings with no pyrotechnics - just a solidly faultless flowing solo that builds the mood exactly like it should.

I'm also enjoying the old Calvin Leavy warhorse Cummins Prison Farm. This one's taken at an easy lick with a fat beat and gruff hollerin' vocals until the moment comes when he drenches the song with a solo that, although not half as frenetic as the original, does the job just right. Part Time Love has an unusual galloping beat with a strident rhythm guitar that is just longing for Slim to step in with a few choice licks and that's exactly what he does before blasting out the song with that dry throaty roar of his, turning Clay Hammond's passionate love song into a full blown blues holler. Breaking Up Somebody's Home comes up next introduced by a chugging backbeat that is soon sliced up by Slim's snappy licks, a verse or two of hard soul/blues howling and some serious slide down the guitar neck for some scathing moves on the solo.

This is Magic Slim and The Teardops carrying on the tradition in the old style and showing us why he's still right at the top in modern Chicago blues. There's no doubt about this and Raising The Bar is Magic Slim's very best record yet.


Review Date: July 2010

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