Magic Slim & The Teardrops – I’m Gonna Play The Blues
Wolf Records – 2019
14 tracks; 79 minutes
Wolf Records clearly thought that they had exhausted the supply of Magic Slim & The Teardrops material with their release of Pure Magic in 2014 but then the recordings of this live concert from 2010 in Vienna surfaced. Wolf clearly had to issue it, having done such a good job with Slim’s late period catalogue, and have been deservedly rewarded with two Blues Blast Award nominations this year (Live Album/Historical Album). The band is Magic Slim on guitar and vocals, Jon McDonald on guitar and vocals, Andre Howard on bass and Brian ‘BJ’ Jones on drums, plus a bonus track left over from a 1991 studio session with the original Teardrops: Slim and John Primer on guitars, Nick Holt on bass and Jerry Porter on drums.
The concert material is typical of the period for the band, a couple of Slim’s originals, one from his late brother Nick and a range of tunes from the repertoires of other blues greats.
The band opens as a trio with Jon singing Junior Wells’ “Come On In This House”. It’s a solid start but things really warm up when the two guitars get together on the rest of the program, starting with the classic Slim boogie of the title track, his guitar ringing out over the groove of the rhythm section and Jon’s intense rhythm work, followed by the slow blues of “Please Don’t Dog Me”, and that’s it for Slim’s originals here. However, there is plenty more great music on offer, starting with the first of two visits to the Little Milton songbook, “4.59 A.M.” for which the band adopts a funkier approach, Slim’s slightly cracked vocals fitting perfectly the traditional blues tale of the woman who has still not come home; later on in the show the band plays a chugging version of “That Will Never Do”.
Slim was obviously in a mood to play some classic blues by other artists and Tampa Red’s “It Hurts Me Too” is an opportunity to lay back on an easy tempo before the band revs up again on Jimmy McCracklin’s “Think”, prefaced by some fiery guitar from Slim. Another slower tune is Guitar Slim’s “The Things We Used To Do” with some lovely interplay between the guitarists. Jimmy Dawkins and Jerry McCain also feature with versions of “Love Somebody” and “She’s Tough” respectively and Nick Holt’s “Playing With My Mind” bounces along, the shortest cut here at just 3.07. Possibly saving the very best till last the band closes with an absolutely thunderous version of Eddie Taylor’s “Bad Boy” (about to become the title track of Slim’s last album for Blind Pig before his death in 2013) and an encore of Lil’ Ed’s “Older Woman” which Slim sings with obvious relish!
The bonus track “Rough Dried Woman” is a fine upbeat stomper with a younger Slim in fine voice as he and John Primer exchange riffs, a good track that makes you wonder why it had remained unissued all these years. Still, good to hear it now as an addendum to a fine album that will delight all Magic Slim fans.