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Bumble Bee Slim Vol. 3 1934-1935

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Album Review

The opening six songs on this volume, which covers the period from November 1934 until April 1935, are decidedly different in texture from much of the material that preceded them in Slim's output. With no more than a guitar or two and perhaps a mandolin backing him up, his music leans less toward the kind of urban R&B sound that his early Vocalion tracks did. The playing is superb, with Carl Martin and Ted Bogan showing off a special virtuosity, while Slim's vocals are brilliantly expressive. The sound is rather rough on some of the material here, leading one to believe that there aren't many copies around of several of these songs — "Way Down In Georgia" and "There You Stand" would not pass muster for release on most labels, being nearly inaudible amid their extreme surface noise. When Slim resumed his piano-based recording in early 1935, he took on a more sophisticated and less rural sound, and his voice became stronger in this mode, far more expressive and involved, alternately playful, sly, or mournful. The guitar accompaniment on some of the late February 1935 tracks, however, are notable as they include Big Bill Broonzy in the session — one of these, "Milk Cow Blues," will prove a major frustration, a magnificent, classic piece of Chicago blues with great playing all around, but almost unlistenable because of the surface noise on the master source, which, one assumes, was irreplaceable. But "Everybody's Fishin'," which follows, is so clean and delightful that it almost makes up for the sonic sins of the earlier song.

Biography

Born: 07 May 1905 in Brunswick, GA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

Popular and prolific, Bumble Bee Slim parlayed a familiar but rudimentary style into one of the earliest flowerings of the Chicago style. Much of what he performed he adapted from the groundbreaking duo Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell -- Slim built on Carr's laconic, relaxed vocal style and Blackwell's guitar technique. During the mid-'30s, Bumble Bee Slim recorded a number of sides for a variety of labels, including Bluebird, Vocalion, and Decca, becoming one of the most-recorded bluesmen of the...
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Bumble Bee Slim Vol. 3 1934-1935, Bumble Bee Slim
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