Magic Slim & The
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
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.