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GUITAR SLIM GREEN

STONE DOWN BLUES

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BGP (CDBGPM287)

Shake ‘Em Up, Bumble Bee Blues, Make Love All Night, My Little Angel Child, 5th Street Alley Boogie, Old Folks Blues, This War Ain’t Right, You Make Me Feel So Good, Big Fine Thing, Play On Little Girl, My Marie, Rock The Nation

This is a re-issue of a little-known 1970 album from Guitar Slim Green, a down-home blues guitarist who was born in Oklahoma but settled in Los Angeles in the late 1940s. Aside from a smattering of occasional singles, this Guitar Slim never had much of a recording career prior to this session, which came about through a link to Johnny Otis, who at the time was reviving his career as a producer, bandleader, talent scout and performer for Kent.

Critical to the involvement of Johnny Otis was the opportunity to record with his son, Shuggie, at the time building his reputation as a hot-shot young guitarist. And, while little of significance came of these sessions afterwards, this re-issue allows us  enjoy and appreciate the fabulous music they created together.

Comprising the original album’s ten tracks plus the addition of two previously unissued numbers, Guitar Slim Green comes across as a genuine lost talent, confidently leading the line as an authoritative and expressive singer of blues standards and originals alike. And, the playing of Johnny and Shuggie is sympathetic and faithful at all times. This being 1970, it must have been tempting for them to update, embellish and otherwise modernise what may have seemed a dated musical form at the time. They take great credit therefore to have left such temptations to one side, and instead committing themselves to the cause of creating the best old-style down home blues album they could.

The only obvious concession to the period comes in the lyrics of Johnny and Shuggie’s co-written song, This War Ain’t Right, an obvious anti-Vietnam sentiment that includes the killer lines: They keep talking about freedom/and we have got to go and fight/but I’ve heard this jive before/and I know this war ain’t right.

The two bonus tracks provide a sense perhaps of how Guitar Slim Green sounded in performance without Johnny and Shuggie Otis around. And these are indeed rather splendid un-adorned down-home blues tracks, featuring just Slim and his guitar. If these are typical of his style, he could and should have been better appreciated at the time.

Another great find by Ace. Just  how do they keep doing it? 

Review Date: April 2015

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