Memphis Slim Beer Drinkin’ Woman – The Blues Collection Review

Memphis Slim Beer Drinkin WomanToday we’ll have a look at yet another item of ‘The Blues Collection’: Memphis Slim Beer Drinkin’ Woman. Memphis Slim, in this issue, was referred to as the ambassador of the blues. Or if we want to be more specific, he is noted as one of the leading interpreters of the Chicago Blues in the 50ies and 60ies. In 1962 he relocated to France where he continued for another 26 years on his path as one of the best Boogie-Woogie and Barrelhouse-Piano style players.

Memphis Slim was born John L. Chatman on September 3rd, 1915. He taught himself how to play the piano starting at the very early age of 7. As a teenager he was inspired by greats such as Leroy Carr, Lonnie Johnson, Roosevelt Sykes who inspired him. While still a young student he started his own first band playing bass gigging in and around Memphis. After meeting his idol Roosevelt Sykes he decided to tour through the southern states during which time he gained his reputation as an outstanding Barrelhouse-Blues piano player.

In 1937 he changed his name into Memphis Slim after moving to Chicago. In order to make ends meet, he converted his living space into a recording studio which he rented out to other musicians. Three years later he recorded ‘Beer Drinkin’ Woman’ and ‘Grinder Man’. Both tunes become help to Memphis to increase his popularity. He also plays on a regular basis with Big Bill Broonzy, the famous blues guitar player with whom he developed a long lasting friendship. As you will hear on the CD, Slim pays tribute to his old friend Broonzy several times.

Over the next few years Slim and his band named ‘Memphis Slim and his Solid Band’ tour across the U.S. and become increasingly popular. Later on, the band changes its name to House Rockers and Slim records classics such as ‘Every Day I have the Blues’ and ‘Wish Me Well’. His biggest commercial success, however, comes after the single ‘Mother Earth’ gets released in the United States. After a 3 year hiatus followed and only limited recording activity, Slims plays at the Carnegie Hall and the Newport Jazz Festival in 1959. A year later he toured Europe alongside Willie Dixon and works on a few tunes together with Alexis Corner in London.

In 1962, after playing the American Blues Folk Festival, Slim makes the decision to move to Paris. He becomes a regular at the ‘Club Les Trois Maillets’ and tours Europe together with Sonny Boy Williams II. In 1974 Slim collaborates with Canned Heat to produce the album ‘Memphis Heat’. He died on February 24, 1988, in Paris.

Alright, now let’s talk about what you will find of the CD issue of ‘Memphis Slim Beer Drinkin’ Woman’. This compilation of tracks encompasses material recorded at two sessions between 1960-1961. Tracks 1-8 were recorded under the supervision of Nat Hentoff in NYC. The audio quality is outstanding, thanks to a great job done by sound-engineer Bob d’Orleans. Slim is accompanied by his old friend and blues guitar player Arbee Stidham, as well as Jazz Gillum on harp. The remaining songs were recorded earlier (July 14, 1960) in London where Slim also worked together with Alexis Korner.

Here is the full tracklist:

1. Late Afternoon Blues
2. I Believe I’ll Settle Down
3. Born With The Blues
4. Bad Luck And Troubles
5. Memphis Slim USA
6. Just Let Me Be
7. Rockin’ Chair Blues
8. I Feel So Good
9. Slow Blues
10. Frisco Bay
11. Beer Drinkin’ Woman
12. Blues For Bertha May
13. In The Evening
14. If You See Kay

Alright, I can only highly recommend this to you, even though it might be a little bit challenging to find a seller who’s willing to part from this issue of ‘The Clues Collection’.

Published date: October 22nd, 2014 by Ulrich Peise

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