Bumble Bee Slim

B and O Blues

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The music of Amos Easton (Bumble Bee Slim) provides a neat bridge between Southern country blues and the urban Chicago-style blues that featured tight, propulsive combos. Slim wasn't as edgy as Big Bill Broonzy, say, or Muddy Waters, but he was every bit a modernist, allowing his easy, laconic vocal style to bring tremendous warmth, humor, and personality to his material, making songs like the loose and breezy "Everybody's Fishing" almost impossible to resist. Also included here is a glimpse of the nascent Bumble Bee Slim on one of his signature songs, "No Woman No Nickel." Slim seldom played guitar on his records, and on "No Woman" it's easy to see why, as he alternates between dexterity and nearly breaking down on guitar as he winds his way through the lyrics, although he ultimately makes the unsteadiness work as a sort of endearing virtue. A prolific writer, Slim could be resigned ("Back in Jail Again"), delightfully goofy ("Greasy Greens"), or eerily modern, even flirting at times with near-jazz arrangements. This collection has most of the essentials, including all of the above mentioned songs plus Slim staples like "Bricks in My Pillow" and "The Death of Leroy Carr," making it a decent single-disc survey of this intriguing musician. More serious listeners may want to invest in the nine-disc Complete Recorded Works from Document Records.

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