Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Folkways Years 1959-73
Genres: Blues, Pop
Urban enough to connect with inner-city blues fans and flexible enough to forge new audiences among starry-eyed blues revivalist on both sides of the Atlantic, Memphis Slim was what would now be called a crossover artist. ... more »
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Urban enough to connect with inner-city blues fans and flexible enough to forge new audiences among starry-eyed blues revivalist on both sides of the Atlantic, Memphis Slim was what would now be called a crossover artist. Like his friend and frequent musical foil Willie Dixon, the pianist-vocalist was amiable and adaptable--characteristics that also came across in their music. The Folkways Years captures the man born Peter Chapman in a variety of sessions cut over a decade and a half. Slim and Dixon tackle "Joggie Boogie," "Stewball," "Beer-Drinking Woman," and Slim's trademark tune "Everyday I Have the Blues." A number of solo tracks and small ensemble pieces (many including guitarist Matt Murphy) add texture to the collection. And there's even a rather stiff Slim-Dixon-Pete Seeger take on "Midnight Special" that illustrates producer and Folkways head Moses Asch's efforts to give Memphis Slim's sophisticated blues a folksy slant. The handsome package and 65-page illustrated booklet add value to this satisfying anthology. --Steven Stolder
Essential listening for blues fans
churchfan | Kansas City, MO USA | 06/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're only going to have one Memphis Slim CD, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. This anthology covers his Folkways years and add three new tracks that have never been released. 'Chicago Rent Party' has a bit of a first-person storytelling aspect to it. 'I Left that Town-Harlem Bound' tells the story of Slim's journey north from Memphis. With 21 tracks and a time of more than 65 minutes, this CD is quite strong. Even some of the weaker tracks (there are no weak tracks!) such as 'Midnight Special' demonstrate just how important Memphis Slim is to the history of blues. And the booklet that Smithsonian Folkways includes adds all sorts of insight into the recording process, lyrics, and a couple of interesting essays on what it was like working with Slim. Essential."
Nice collection of Slim's Folkways sides
Docendo Discimus | Vita scholae | 10/30/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Memphis Slim Chatman recorded on and off for the Folkways label for 14 years (although most of these titles appear to be from the late 50s and early 60s), and this 21-track compilation give a pretty good impression of what Slim's Folkways sides were like.
Folkways Records was a traditionally oriented label, so this is mostly sparsely accompanied or solo pieces, and "The Folkways Years" is among Slim's more restrained albums.
It is not one of his very best, but there is certainly a lot of good stuff here, and a great 32-page booklet as well.
Highlights include a great take on "Key To The Highway" which has Bill "Jazz" Gillum singing and playing harmonica, the soulful slow tunes "Prison Bound" and "If The Rabbit Had A Gun", the classic "Beer Drinking Woman", and the swaggering sort-of-instrumental "Chicago Rent Party"...Slim ocationally speaks while playing, but it's not actually a song.
"Harlem Bound" is a pleasant trifle, Slim does a really good take on Big Bill Broonzy's "Just A Dream", and the four CD bonus tracks include a delightfully jazzy "Folkways version" of "Nobody Loves Me" ("Every Day I Have The Blues").
Folk singer Pete Seeger singing the lead on "The Midnight Special" is a bit of an oddity, but Arbee Stidham's "Walking Blues" (no relation to Son House's late-20s song of the same name) is another highlight, and Stidham himself sings the lead vocal and plays guitar on what is probably the toughest number on the entire record. Nice solo by Slim about halfway through, and he also does a great "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" which wouldn't have embarrassed Clarence "Pinetop" Smith at all.
There are a few minor items here, and newcomers should start with the wonderful "Memphis Slim At The Gate Of Horn", but if you're a fan you will certainly want the cream of Memphis Slim's Folkways sides as well, and this is the best way to get them.
3 3/4 stars. Lots of good stuff here."
churchfan | 03/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great piano blues that make it hard to sit still. Has the emotion and raw intensity that so much music of all genres are missing today."