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Bluesingly Yours

Memphis Slim

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Album Review

This brief segment of the Memphis Slim story unearths a parcel of tasty tracks recorded during 1967 in Paris where Slim would live out the rest of his life. Here he delivers his usual mix of slow drags, soulful struts, shuffles, and boogies, working the piano and singing the blues. Solid support is provided by guitarist Mickey Baker, bassists Guy Pedersen and Roland Lobligeois, and drummer Andre Arpino. The rest of the personnel remain largely unidentified; the nameless organist and a tidy anonymous horn section put a lot of meat on the ribs of this album. On "People People" and "Christina" the organ establishes a vibe comparable with certain wistful portions of John Mayall's largely introspective Bare Wires album, a distant cousin to this session recorded in April of the following year. "Feeling the Blues" is most unique as Slim gives voice to his emotions accompanied only by Baker on acoustic guitar. This is excellent music, and the producers were wise to reissue it. Yet it is not, however, a judicious use of CD space; there are only 35 minutes of music on here. If they had combined it with Clap Your Hands, another album in the series lasting a mere 28 minutes, one wouldn't feel quite so shortchanged.


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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