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Clap Your Hands - Rock a Rhythm' Blues

Memphis Slim

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Album Review

This was Memphis Slim's 1964 rock & roll album, designed for the Parisian in-crowd youth market. It was recorded at a time when the Rolling Stones were working hard to sound like a Chicago blues band. Some of the tracks are exciting and ideal for exuberant, reckless, or possibly go-go dancing. Unfortunately, despite the promise this series makes of extra material culled from the Barclay, Polydor, and Festival vaults, this disc only contains a paltry 28 minutes of music. Perhaps it would have been longer had the original producers and recording engineers resisted the temptation to fade down on tunes like "Steppin' Out Tonight," a solid Chicago-style jam that suddenly evaporates after two minutes and ten seconds, although it probably lasted ten minutes in the studio. The backing vocals by the Jacques Denjean Singers during "Memphis on the Mississippi" are a bit unsettling, while some of the instrumentation seems to have been gathered from the European trad jazz scene. The best blowing comes from saxophonists Sonny Criss and Georges Grenu. Note also the presence of drummer Phillippe "Fifi" Combelle, whose career began in 1957 when he worked in the reed section of an orchestra led by his father, an ex-Django Reinhardt session man, tenor saxophonist Alix Combelle. An interesting, fun reissue, but why less than half an hour's material on a disc that could hold up to 80 minutes?

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...
Full Bio