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Album Review

At 71, Magic Slim sounds as nasty and gritty as any bluesman you can name. He's one of the few Mississippi bluesmen who moved to Chicago in the early '50s still on the scene. His sound hasn't evolved much over the years — he still plays slide guitar without a slide, just his fingers slipping up and down the strings so he's able to bend notes while he slides — but it doesn't have to. His primal vocals, red-hot guitar work, and the supple backing of his Teardrops, Jon McDonald, guitar and vocals, Danny O'Conner, bass, and David Sims, drums, create the kind of deep bluesy feeling that can't be faked. On Midnight Blues he makes the most of every track, be it an original or a standard. He opens things with his own "Let Me Love You," a rockin' love song that showcases his stinging guitar and powerhouse vocals. Near the end of the tune he tosses off a brief, growling Howlin' Wolf imitation that'll bring a smile to you face. "Full Load Boogie" is an instrumental that moves like a freight train headed North with Slim and McDonald trading blistering solos. "Carla" is a slow drag, an ode to a faithless girlfriend, full of tortured blues notes. "What Is That You Got" is a slow, sly, sexy number with a long sultry solo, while "Cryin' Won't Let You Stay" is a rollicking goodbye song featuring Elvin Bishop on second guitar. Muddy Water's "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had" is taken at a leisurely pace with James Cotton contributing one of his patented wailing solos. Slim pulls some country licks out of his bag for "Going Down That Road Feeling Bad," a folk song known by both white and black southerners. His unexpected rebel yells give the track a jaunty air. He closes the set with an R&B arrangement of Little Milton's "Loving You Is the Best Thing That Happened to Me" with a smoldering horn section and backing vocals by soul great Otis Clay. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Midnight Blues, Magic Slim & The Teardrops
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