When word got out that Magic Slim was looking for a few guest Teardrops, the Chicago rhythm & blues community responded with a resounding "Yeah!" Joining him on this incredible set of real Chicago Blues with a dash of Country and a bit of Soul thrown in are James Cotton, Little Ed, Lonnie Brooks, Otis Clay, Gene Barge, Elvin Bishop and the Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings horn section. Slim is a national treasure, one of the few true "bluesmen " still around, and at seventy years young he is playing and singing with as much passion and strength as ever.
"Midnight Blues is another round of what Slim does best: Some of the toughest straight-ahead blues you can find that are still delivered by the guy who created them." - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Magic Slim remains a prime purveyor of electric Chicago blues. The gruff-voiced singer-guitarist's approach may be meat-and-potatoes, but Midnight Blues shows just how many flavors a master can bring to the form." - Philadelphia Inquirer
Morris “Magic Slim” Holt has been a fixture on the Chicago blues scene for over 40 years. Playing his straight ahead style, Magic Slim learned from the masters in the 60s heyday of electric blues (Holt received his name from hometown friend Magic Sam Maghett when he arrived in Chicago), and endured through the languid, dark period of the 70s to become the legend that he is today. This is Slim’s first studio recording since 2002’s Blue Magic with Popa Chubby. This disc unites Magic Slim & his Teardrops with the young blood Nick Moss on production and several longtime friends to turn in one of the best traditional discs of the year. With 9 covers and 4 originals, Magic Slim hands you a textbook in Chicago blues.
Shifting from the upbeat Chicago shuffles heard traditionally on the South Side (“Let Me Love You” or Hound Dog Taylor’s classic “Give Me Back My Wig”) to some nasty finger-picking slow blues on the Holt original “Carla.” Nick Moss sets back and turns the master loose. Approached as a live in the studio recording, Moss and Magic Slim are best left undisturbed with any sort of knob twitching that normally is the protocol for contemporary blues. Slim’s thick toned guitar cuts through and is front and center on each and every cut, even with the star-studded special guests. Lil’ Ed Williams plays the part of Hound Dog Taylor on “Wig.” James Cotton gives a repeat performance on the song he probably has played millions of times for his old boss Muddy Waters with the fine cover by Slim on “Can’t Lose What You Never Had.” Slim also turns in 2 fine late catalog releases of Little Milton’s with “Lonely Man” and “Loving You Is the Best Thing That Happened to Me,” with the latter featuring soul legend Otis Clay on backup vocals. Slim also trades off some rock solid licks with contemporary Elvin Bishop on “Crying Won’t Let You Stay.” I say contemporary because Bishop was a pivotal member of the upstart Butterfield Blues Band right as Slim was hitting his stride in the South Side clubs. You can bet these two greats have rubbed elbows on more than one occasion.
The only song that might sound out of place is the old folk song “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad,” which Slim and the Teardrops turn into a country blues workout. Slim even gives an affectionate “yee haw” at the end of the song. It might seem a little off putting for blues fans. However, Slim makes the song more of a romp and a fun ditty than anything else. I would take the song at face value and see it as a good reference for a mixture of genres with folk and blues.
Jammed in between some fine releases of some more recognizable names, Magic Slim might get passed over for nods from the awards committees but this release is just as good or even better than the greatest of these. Slim’s guitar and voice are in fine, strong form and the album doesn’t sound like it’s a last gasp by an aging bluesman but simply a time capsule for this point in time for an ever-expanding legendary career. In fact, this is probably Slim’s best release in over a decade and is a hallmark for what Chicago Blues is and was and always will be.
1. Let Me Love You
2. You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had
3. Give Me Back My Wig
4. Lonely Man
5. Spider In My Stew
6. Going Down The Road Feeling Bad
7. Full Load Boogie
8. Cross-eyed Cat
9. House Cat Blues
11. Cryin' Won't Let You Stay
12. What Is That You Got
13. Loving You Is The Best Thing That Happened To Me
About Magic Slim & The Teardrops
Magic Slim is a living blues legend who migrated from the South to
Chicago during the 50s. Slim plays raw intense blues, a style that uses
no pedals or other electronic gadgets to get his sound, it's just him, and Slim has paved the way for rock as well as modern blues. Slim has been
busy traveling to the juke joints in Mississippi to the nightclubs in Chicago and to concert stages throughout the world, he has built up a die hard fan
base within it. Slim and The Teardrops performances have become legendary and they play the blues with an undeniable intensity that will
leave you out of breath, lying on the floor and in need for more.
This is a look into a man that's from the country and now he's playing to audiences worldwide.
This big man of the blues was born Morris Holt in Torrence, Mississippi on August the 7th, 1937. His mother and father were sharecroppers; they
lived on a farm and they all would get up early in the mornings and slop the hogs, feed the chickens, catch the mule and go out into the fields. "I
still had to go to the field until I got age enough to leave home. I got little
jobs around there when I was 13 and that was when I got my hand hurt. I hurt it in a cotton gin. I was at the gin and my hand got caught on a piece
of wire going up in there, and I grabbed it and before I could turn it loose I lost my little pinky finger."
Slim showed his musical talents early, singing in his church and playing piano. After his accident he could not play the piano anymore, so he
picked up the guitar. He made his first guitar out of bailing wire from a broom, which he nailed to a wall. "My Mama whipped me when I tore up
her broom," he said, "but she let me keep on using it, and Mama said later that if she had known what I would be into later in life, she would not
have given me a whipping."
It was in 1955 when Slim made his first trek to Chicago, to play for Magic Sam, a friend of his from home. Magic Sam also gave Slim tips on playing
the guitar, and it was Sam who called his bass player "Magic Slim," because back then Slim was lean and tall and he learned from Sam
quickly. Sam told Slim to create his own guitar style. "Magic Sam told me, do not try to play like him, and do not try to play like no one else; he said
get a sound of your own." Slim got a sound of his own; his guitar tone is tough and cutting, united with a vibrato formed by using his fingers
against the strings to reproduce the sound of a slide guitar while still being able to bend the notes. Slim said, "I slide with my finger. I use
nothing on my finger, a lot of players try to get a sound like me and can't. I play the same guitar everybody else does."
Now when it comes to writing songs, Slim has his own unique way to accomplish his writing. "I just think of some words and write them down,
think of some more and write them down, and then when I get enough words together I take out some and put some more in there and make
them rhyme together and then I learn them, and then I put music to them." "My songs are either telling a story or asking a question. It's just a
feelin'," Slim does not practice or rehearse his music. He doesn't prepare a set list for his shows he says, "I see what kind of crowd it is, I play a few
songs and see how the people react and just see if they are a dancin' crowd or an older crowd and go from there."
Favorite CD? "No, I like them all." Song to play? "I don't know, I like to play all of them." "And I like to listen to blues, jazz, bluegrass and country and
western." Some of Slim's favorite places to play are Brazil, Paris, Russia and here at home in the U.S.
Where is the blues headed? "I think the blues is coming back now, there are a lot of these kids reading up on the blues and now they know where
the blues came from. Some of them can play too; I don't know how they feel, because the blues is a feeling. You have to feel the blues to play it."
Magic Slim is a man that came from the country. He was slim and tall trying to play the blues, now he can play the blues. And now he says, "If
you want to play the blues, play the blues, if you don't feel the blues, leave it alone cause you can't be playing it just to make a dollar."
The Teardrops consist of Jon McDonald on guitar/vocals, Danny O'Connor on bass and Lenny Media on drums/vocals.