Like many other Southern blues musicians looking for work during the Depression, Bumble Bee Slim (aka Amos Easton) made his way to the industrial cities of the northern Mississippi. From Chicago to Detroit, Slim and his contemporaries molded the easygoing sound of Southern, rural blues to the complex and sonorous backdrop of the metropolis, and, in the process, laid the groundwork for the electric blues revolution of the '40s and '50s. Wolf Records' compilation 1934-1937 includes many of the Georgia native's prime cuts from this time, and spotlights the blues luminaries who backed him up. Big Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red, Memphis Minnie, and Black Bob standout on fine tracks like "When Somebody Loses" and "New Orleans Stop Time," producing an ensemble sound that combines the rough feel of Delta blues with the tighter sound of the Chicago style. This sophisticated blend reaches an apex in the excellent work of boogie-woogie piano master Albert Ammons and guitarist Lonnie Johnson on "I'm Having So Much Trouble." With his Leroy Carr-inspired, easygoing voice, Slim expertly oversees the fine backing, infusing his many tales of a rough and rambling life with humor and even a sense of detachment ("When The Music Sounds Good" includes a parody of the kind of uptight, white producer Slim, no doubt, ran into). In addition to Document Records' 1931-1937, this Wolf title provides a nice introduction to the music of Bumble Bee Slim. For fans who want all of Slim's sides, there's Document's Complete Recorded Works series.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook