Sunnyland Slim


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The third installment in the Classics Sunnyland Slim chronology presents 20 full-strength Chicago blues recordings cut between 1952 and 1955 and initially issued on 78-rpm singles bearing the J.O.B., Ebony, Chance, Blue Lake, and Club 51 imprints. Also included are four previously unreleased Vee-Jay recordings from 1953 (or possibly 1954). Sunnyland had been making records under his own name since 1947; by the early to mid-'50s he was a seasoned entertainer who sounded spontaneous and convincing even when recycling a bit of his own earlier material. Sitting in with Sunnyland on these fine recordings were vocalist Johnny Shines; harmonica man Snooky Pryor; guitarists J.B. Lenoir, Robert Jr. Lockwood, and Lefty Bates; as well as saxophonists Ernest Cotton, J.T. Brown, and Red Holloway. "Bassology," heard here in two distinct versions recorded about a year apart, features Big Crawford, the logical successor to Ransom Knowling, one of Chicago's best blues bassists during the 1940s. Crawford also played maracas whenever Slim shifted into his patented New Orleans/Chicago rhythm for yet another version of "Shake It Baby," also known as "When I Was Young." For a distinctly different approach to the big fiddle, try Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart's "Bassology"; theirs is a feature for bowed bass while Crawford's approach was to walk the bass with plenty of muscle, almost as if it were a percussion instrument. "Four Day Bounce," a fine piece of instrumental boogie-woogie, probably refers to a predawn waking state. If so, it shares a spelling change in common with Ida Cox's famous "'Fore Day Creep." For a taste of rock & roll, try "Be Mine Alone," a kicker that puts the tenor sax of Red Holloway right in front with shouts of encouragement from Sunnyland Slim.

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