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January 2015

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Magic Slim & The Teardrops
Pure Magic
Wolf Records

Magic Slim

Before he passed away in 2013, Magic Slim and his band, The Teardrops, were one of the best and most popular live bands on the worldwide blues circuit for many, many years. Slim's recorded legacy was also quite long, with Wolf Records contributing to his discography with nine prior albums.

Album number ten on Wolf, Pure Magic, is a fine addition to this extensive catalog. It's a collection of live recordings made in Austria during multiple Teardrop tours from 1992 through 1995. Personnel consisted of the standard lineup (quite frankly, one of the best blues bands of that era!): Magic Slim (vocals, guitar), Nick Holt (bass), Earl Howell (drums), and John Primer (guitar). The latter also recorded extensively on Wolf and continues to tour and record, keeping Slim's legacy alive in addition to showing that he is one of the best representations of the Chicago blues sound around today.

Sound quality on all recordings is impeccable -- at times it's hard to tell that these recordings weren't made in a first-class studio. I can't come up with any one cut that's better than the others, because quite frankly everything here is top-notch. The dozen cuts here (along with two conversational interludes with Slim) are mostly Chicago standards, with one Magic Slim original ("See What You're Doing To Me") which is an absolute killer up-tempo blues shuffle.

Notable covers include Albert King's "California," Willie Dixon's "I'm Ready" (Muddy's version has always been one of my favorites from his repertoire, but now I like this one just about as much!) and "Spider In My Stew," Ivory Joe Hunter's "Since I Met You Baby," Arthur Crudup/Elmore James' "Look Over Yonder's Wall," Ike Turner's "Do You Mean It?," and Al Perkins/Emery Williams Jr.'s "Call My Job."

The CD jacket also displays many classic photos of Slim and the band through the years, as well as exhaustive liner notes from Wolf Records exec Hannes Folterbauer and Phoenix area blues entrepreneur Bob Corritore.

Pure Magic is just another excellent collection of recordings by Magic Slim & The Teardrops. You'll want it if you're a fan, and it's one of the many good entry points if you're just learning about this very talented man.

--- Bill Mitchell
 

 

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