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Classic Sides 1950-1953 (CD B)

Sunnyland Slim And His Pals

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Album Review

JSP, one of the U.K.'s most active historical reissue labels, presents an outstanding postwar Chicago blues anthology packed with essential recordings made between 1947 and 1955 by Sunnyland Slim & His Pals. Out of the 104 tracks (not 97 as stated on the front of the packaging), 60 are "by" Sunnyland Slim; the other 44 were released under the names of Johnny Shines, Robert Lockwood, Floyd Jones, Leroy Foster, J.B. Lenoir, Jimmy Rogers, and St. Louis Jimmy. Sunnyland sat in on each of these dates; the enclosed discography denies his presence on the Johnny Shines date, although his piano is clearly audible. Born Albert Luandrew (or Loeandrew) in Vance, MS, on September 5, 1906, he sang with Little Brother Montgomery in 1923 and accompanied Ma Rainey on the piano in Portageville, MO, at a time when he only knew how to play in three keys. Luandrew's stage name was derived from a blues he wrote about the Sunnyland, an express locomotive that ran between St. Louis and Memphis. Sunnyland Slim first played Chicago in 1939 and settled there in 1942, making his initial appearance on records with Jump Jackson in September 1946; JSP did not include material from that session and has provided only three of the seven titles cut by Sunnyland Slim and Muddy Waters between 1947 and 1949. What you do get is a core sample of classic sides that Sunnyland cut for 15 different record labels during the Truman and Eisenhower eras. (Note that Johnny Shines actually references both presidents in the words to "Living in the White House.") These pungent performances involved some of Chicago's toughest bluesmen; the roster includes, in addition to the names already mentioned: guitarists Big Bill Broonzy and Lefty Bates; pianist Blind John Davis; legendary Windy City bassists Ransom Knowling and Big Crawford; harmonica ace Snooky Pryor; trumpeter Billy Howell; and saxophonists Alex Atkins, J.T. Brown, Oliver Alcorn, Ernest Cotton, and Red Holloway. Sunnyland Slim outlived almost every single one of his contemporaries. He was well loved and widely respected throughout the Great Lakes Afro-American community as a generous individual who helped others to survive during his long and productive career as one of Chicago's fundamental bluesmen. [This collection was also available as four separate single-disc volumes.]

Classic Sides 1950-1953 (CD B), Sunnyland Slim And His Pals
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