Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Sunnyland Slim – Slim’s Shout (Prestige, 1969)

Sunnyland Slim was one of the premier piano and organ players on the Chicago scene during it’s heyday in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Hooking up with the soon to be legendary R&B tenor saxophonist King Curtis, they recorded this classic blues album with jazz record producer Rudy Van Gelder in his New Jersey studio.

As great as the music is on this disc, what really stands out is the songwriting. Slim works deep within the blues tradition but never surrenders to it’s clichés. He’ll approach taboo subjects and take a look at lyrical matters from a different angle. Take for example “The Devil is a Busy Man” in which the devil is off collecting the souls of all of the fallen women that have gone wrong.

Sunnyland also handles standard material with flair, as an easy rolling version of Leroy Carr's classic song “Baby How Long” and and wonderfully mournful version of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Decoration Day” demonstrate. He slips in some more wonderfully wry tunes like “Harlem Can’t Be Heaven” where he tells you too keep an eye out for “the fat women.”

This is one of the classic records of piano blues (not to mention organ, too) and shouldn’t be missed under any circumstances. It all came together on this session, the music, the lyrics and the performances are all top drawer.

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