Memphis Slim

Very Much Alive and in Montreux

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This choice chapter in the Memphis Slim story delivers an exciting taste of what a modern electric blues band sounded like in live performance during the early '70s. This reissue includes a bonus track featuring Hammond B-3 organist Deacon Jones and formidable electric guitar wizard Freddie King. (It's quite a package, although even with this extra cut the disc only contains 43 minutes of music.) The year 1973 was particularly exciting as blues, soul, funk, and rock & roll began to blend in ways that had only been hinted at during the 1960s. This cultural explosion was inevitable as music festivals were expanded to include a wide range of styles and genres. The 1973 Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival, for example, featured One String Sam, Victoria Spivey, Roosevelt Sykes, John Lee Hooker, and Ray Charles on the same weekend as Yusef Lateef, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, and the Sun Ra Arkestra. The 1973 jazz festival held in Montreux, Switzerland, underwent comparable dilation as Odetta, Fats Domino, Muddy Waters, and Professor Longhair appeared alongside Miles Davis, Les McCann, Sam Rivers, and St├ęphane Grappelli. Memphis Slim fit perfectly into this mind-blowing lineup. Backed by bassist Benny Turner, drummer Charlie Meyers, and guitarist Joe "Jammer" Wright, Slim rises to the occasion, maintaining at all tempos a powerful presence that is still breathtaking. Most amusing is Slim's politically charged "The Watergate Festival," juxtaposing the seemingly disparate topics of a fertile international music festival scene and the corruption scandal that was steadily disembowelling the Nixon White House during the summer of 1973. This track compares nicely with similar Watergate "tributes" composed and/or recorded by Eddie Shaw, Tom T. Hall, Howlin' Wolf, Big Joe Williams, Percy Heath, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Gil Scott-Heron.

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