Magic Slim & the Teardrops

Magic Slim & the Teardrops
Midnight Blues

Blind Pig Records (BPCD5125)

By Georgetown Fats
June 2009

For Mississippi-to-Chicago blues enthusiasts, it is not a stretch to imagine Morris Holt earning the first half of his blues moniker the first time he picked up an acoustic guitar and played along with friend and mentor Magic Sam.

On an electric guitar, Holt - better known as Magic Slim - cranks out a heavy vibrato to his tube amps, creating a humid overdrive close to the glowing point of sonic meltdown. It is a magic tone, never quite duplicated by contemporaries. Slim though, is a bit of a stretch. From the primal, growling vocals to his large stature - both with and without his guitar, “slim” is a misnomer.

On Midnight Blues, his 7th disc on the Blind Pig label, several Chicago Blues luminaries offer up their services as guest Teardrops. The disc opens with the original “Let Me Love You.” The track has the standard guitar opening riff, rhythm section entrance and shotgun chorus - and is incredibly infectious. “Let Me Love You” is an earworm with its gracefully simple riffs and lyrics.

On the Muddy Waters track “You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had,” with James Cotton providing a harp track, Magic Slim stays fairly close to the original recording. Cotton proves though he may be 73, there are plenty of licks left in the repertoire for Superharp.

Ike Turnerís “Give Me Back My Wig” is the next cover tune to receive a Magic Slim & The Teardrops treatment. With Lilí Ed Williams providing slide guitar work all throughout, physically, he and Holt (Magic Slim) may be a DeVito- Schwarzenegger pairing. But with their guitars they are both giants. It Ďs not hard to imagine a lot of duck walking on the day this was recorded .

On Slimís “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad,” he proves though he may be part of the Chicago blues history, he has some roots in original country and western music.

“Full Loaded Boogie (I)” is an instrumental featuring the lead guitar work of both Slim and Teardrop Jon McDonald. Over a very danceable beat by the rhythm section of Danny O'Connor on bass and Lenny Media on drums-vocals, Slim and McDonald trade lead guitar solos for the 2.40 minute track. It is not too hard to imagine this being the opening track used to introduce the band either to open or close a Magic Slim & the Teardrops show.

The 8th track is another cover, dipping deeper into Waterís catalog. “Cross-eyed Cat” does not follow along with the original recording. Magic Slim & the Teardrops convert the tune into more of the traditional Chicago blues 12-bar feel. Few acts could pull off this rendition. Al though itís a cover song, Magic Slim & The Teardrops make this one their own.

“House Cat Blues,” may or may not be a response tune to “Cross-Eyed Cat”, but it is another danceable Chicago-style 12- bar blues tune. Magic Slim equates the blues with his house cat, and how he plans to get a shaggy dog to “learn him (the house cat) some sense.” Raucous, humorous and raunchy Magic Slim embraces the house party roots of blues music long with this track which, if it does not warrant a chuckle from the listener, then the fault is clearly with the listener.

For any Chicago blues enthusiasts, Midnight Blues is a fantastic addition to the musical library. As contemporary blues musicians either try hard to replicate their predecessorsí work, or attempt to separate themselves with a blues/rock/fusion approach to their music, it is refreshing and reassuring to know Magic Slim & the Teardrops are still out on the road with an active tour schedule. Hopefully for Blind Pig and Magic Slimís legion of fans, the soon-to-be 72-year- old has many more shows and releases left in him.

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