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The Complete Recordings, Vol. 4 (1951-1952)

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Album Review

Memphis Slim's The Complete Recordings, Vol. 4 includes 22 tracks recorded between 1951 and 1952. The majority of tracks feature an early incarnation of Slim's band, the House Rockers, which usually included at least two saxophones. This is uptown big-city blues recorded in an era when smooth crooners — similar to what Charles Brown was doing at the time — were all the rage. Unlike Brown, Slim utilized uptempo tunes that negated his attempts to fit into that mellow mold. All of the tracks are top-notch, with the exception of the five tunes featuring vocalist Terry Timmons. While her voice isn't horrible, it is intrusive. Timmons' singing career was short-lived, and she dropped out of sight in 1953. The final two cuts are real gems, "Beale Street Jump" and "Living the Life I Love," which add Matt "Guitar" Murphy on his first sessions with Slim. He would go on to be an integral part of the House Rockers into the '60s.

Biography

Born: 03 September 1915 in Memphis, TN

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

An amazingly prolific artist who brought a brisk air of urban sophistication to his frequently stunning presentation, John "Peter" Chatman — better known as Memphis Slim — assuredly ranks with the greatest blues pianists of all time. He was smart enough to take Big Bill Broonzy's early advice about developing a style to call his own to heart, instead of imitating that of his idol, Roosevelt Sykes. Soon enough, other 88s pounders were copying Slim rather than the other...
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