Friday, April 01, 2005

Memphis Slim – Paris Mississippi Blues (Sunnyside, 2005)

Piano playing bluesman Memphis Slim had a long and successful career which culminated in the recordings collected here, recorded during his years living in Paris and recording and performing around Europe in the late 60’s and early 70’s. This two disc collection is split pretty evenly, the first and best of the two concentrates on either Slim playing solo or with small bands, while the second and somewhat spottier disc has Slim with some guest musicians.

There are some excellent house rockers on disc one, Slim and Willie Dixon raise the roof with a nice version of Big Joe Williams “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Rocking and Rolling the House” while fellow piano pounder Roosevelt Sykes joins in for some hard driving boogie-woogie duets. Slim goes down in the alley as well, with a stark ballad version of “Mississippi Water.”

Disc two has some very interesting stuff as well, especially when Buddy Guy sits in on the appropriately titled “When Buddy Comes to Town” and “Rollin’ and Tumblin.’” Buddy had come from years playing with Muddy Waters and Otis Spann, so he really knew how to support a piano player. There are a few missteps as well; a couple of tracks try to update Slim’s classic sound for the rock and roll ear without too much success. But overall this is a very successful package and should appeal to blues fans that have a fondness for piano.

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