BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Watermelon Slim and the Workers; The Wheel Man (Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Watermelon Slim and the Workers: Drinking and Driving
 BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Watermelon Slim and the Workers; The Wheel Man (Southbound)

To be honest I didn't quite "get" the last, self-titled, album by this rough'n'ready bluesman, but I was clearly in the minority: the album won the Mojo magazine and the Independent Music Awards for blues album of the year, got six nominations at the Blues Music Awards and so on.

And this album -- which I have to say I "got" immediately -- comes with guest Magic Slim and a quote from the great producer Jerry Wexler who says, "Watermelon Slim incarnates the deepest and truest roots of American music. Combine Jimmy Rodgers, the whole Carter family and Bob Wills with Blind Lemon, Sonny Boy Williamson and Wilson Pickett and there you have Slim, a one-of-a-kind pickin' and singin' Okie dynamo".

Well, you can't add much to that I guess, only to say it all seems true and that Slim also possesses one of those untutored, gruff and undeniably authentic voices, plays great Dobro, has an explosive band, and here tears apart classics such as Got Love If You Want It, cuts right back for a raw treatment of Furry Lewis' Judge Harsh Judge, and fires off some memorable originals.

He sounds as at home in the studio as did the late Hound Dog Taylor (who just treated his sessions as if they were another nightclub workout), and this one just jumps off the disc at you.

Song titles tell the story here: Black Water, Drinking and Driving, Fast Eddie, Sawmill Holler, Truck Driving Mama, Rattlesnake, Peaches . . .

I had the pleasure of interviewing Slim recently who, among many other things, has been a truck driver, a wheel man (driver of the getaway car), soldier in Vietnam, anti-war activist, journalist and so on. He has a double degree (journalism and history) but was declined a teaching position "because I don't have teeth". He is also a member of Mensa.

Quite some man. Quite some album.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Blues articles index

Shemekia Copeland: Uncivil War (Alligator/digital outlets)

Shemekia Copeland: Uncivil War (Alligator/digital outlets)

Although this daughter of the great Johnny Copeland had 20 years and more than half a dozen albums behind her, we didn't hear her until her impressive, socio-political America's Child two years... > Read more

Various Artists: God Don't Never Change; The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson (Alligator/Southbound)

Various Artists: God Don't Never Change; The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson (Alligator/Southbound)

Late last year Elsewhere essayed the life and music of the great Blind Willie Johnson, the man who gave blues (and then rock and country) such cornerstone songs as It's Nobody's Fault But Mine,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

River Jordan, Jordan: The land where saints and profits walk

River Jordan, Jordan: The land where saints and profits walk

On this bright morning when a barely visible film of rain evaporates before it hits the dry desert floor, the River Jordan – down the long path past the empty Pepsi stand – is an... > Read more

GRAEME GASH OF WAVES INTERVIEWED (2013): On the crest of new Waves

GRAEME GASH OF WAVES INTERVIEWED (2013): On the crest of new Waves

Back in February 2012, I pulled the sole album by New Zealand's Waves from off my shelf and posted the track Arrow as a From the Vaults entry. At the time I said this innovative self-titled... > Read more