Magic Slim & The Teardrops, Joe Carter, Sunnyland

Magic Slim & The Teardrops, Joe Carter, Sunnyland
That Ain't Right

Delmark DE-786

By Karen Nugent
December 2006

If you like classic, Chicago blues, then Delmark’s latest release of vintage tunes is a must-have.

With some never-before-on-disc recordings from 1977, the record features Magic Slim & the Teardrops, a Chicago blues fixture for more than 30 years.

And as if that alone wasn’t enough, this disc also has some of the only-known recordings of the raunchy-voiced Joe Carter, an underground Windy City hero.

There’s more: Carter’s session, also from 1977, features the legendary Sunnyland Slim on piano, Lacy Gibson on guitar and the great Fred Below, Little Walter’s drummer, who sings his favorite, “Route 66” on this must-have record.

The 13-song record starts out with six tunes performed by Magic Slim (Morris Holt) which were re-mixed to replace his gritty, South Side tavern sound. Their version of Muddy Waters’ “Just To Be With You,” is powerful, as is the obscure – and quite despairing – Cummins Prison Farm with the line “I was born in Missouri, crossed the line from Arkansas/Didn’t have any money, I got in trouble with the law.”

You know what happened next…

Slim hits the mark again with “Soul Blues,” an original instrumental; “Strange Things Happen” a shuffle; and another Holt original, “She Is Mine,” a slow blues.

Carter, Sunnyland and Below take the stage for rest of the disc.

Heavily influenced by Elmore James, Carter fully captures him on James’ “I’m Ready,” complete with his famous slide guitar licks.

Sunnyland shines on “Anna Lee” which also has some Hawaiian-like slide guitar, along with Carter in full growl mode.

The three, along with guitarist Gibson and Willie Black on bass also give us all-time faves “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Stormy Monday,” along with an original instrumental by Carter called “Joe’s Boogie”.

A highlight of the disc is Below singing the swinging classic “Route 66,” especially at the end, when he announces that it’s “oopie-doopie” time and goes into a great scat sequence.

The disc ends with another Elmore James tune, “Bobby’s Rock,” an instrumental with more searing slide guitar.

Magic Slim (who is apparently not very slim) & the Teardrops, now older, still play and tour regularly. Morris Holt and his younger brothers Nick (on bass) and Douglas (on drums) came to Chicago from Mississippi in the 1940s. There, they met and jammed with Magic Sam, from whom Slim took the first part of his name. The Teardrops have changed throughout the years, and Morris Holt (Slim) now lives in Nebraska.

Carter, who died in 2001, hung out with Muddy, Elmore, Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson, but unbelievably, did little performing after this 1977 session.

Fred Below, one of blues’ best drummers, often sang “Route 66” with the Aces, (Louis and Fred Myers, Little Walter’s first band). He died in 1988. Sunnyland Slim is also no longer with us, making this record even more poignant.

It was first recorded by Chicago producer Ralph Bass, as part of a blues album series. The master eventually made its way to Delmark, resulting in the current release - a gift to all of us.

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