Ottomatic Slim

Ottomatic Slim

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Anyone who really knows his/her blues history should have no problem figuring out how singer/harmonica player Otto Lenz came up with the name Ottomatic Slim; Lenz' stage name is obviously a play on Automatic Slim, a character in the Willie Dixon standard "Wang Dang Doodle" (which was recorded by Koko Taylor, Howlin' Wolf and others). "Wang Dang Doodle" (whose other infamous characters include Razor-Totin' Jim and Butcher Knife-Totin' Annie) is one of those classics that really defined the Chess Records sound in the '50s and '60s; so when Lenz calls himself Ottomatic Slim, it's logical to assume that the New Englander brings a strong Chess/electric Chicago blues influence to the table. And this self-titled album does, in fact, contain some Chess Records influence. But Ottomatic's work is far from a carbon copy of the amplified Chicago blues that Little Walter, Muddy Waters and others provided during Chess' glory years -- Chess Records is an influence, but Ottomatic also gets a lot of inspiration from blues-rock, '70s funk and blue-eyed soul. What transpires on this 2005 release could be described as Chess and Chicago blues by way of Rare Earth by way of Robben Ford (minus Ford's jazz explorations and his ultra-eclectic outlook). It's an appealing combination of influences, and one that serves Ottomatic reasonably well on original material as well as on Dixon's "I Want to Be Loved." Ottomatic's performances aren't mind-blowing, but they're likable -- and while he isn't funky in the way that the Ohio Players, Sly & the Family Stone and Tower of Power were funky, or the way that Magic Sam and Sonny Boy Williamson were funky, he's funky nonetheless. This is a noteworthy effort that illustrates Ottomatic's ability to combine blues, rock, soul and funk with decent and satisfying, if derivative, results.

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