When you're a blues guy with a sobriquet including the words "magic" and "slim," you'd better have the goods. The Essential is a best-of collection drawing upon Slim's six albums for the erstwhile blues label Blind Pig. Superficially, Slim slings the modern electric 12-bar blues, but in this case, it's not the ingredients in the stew, it's the quality and measure of said ingredients.
Slim has a hearty, raspy, king-of-the- barroom bellow, light on angst, but heavy on affability and gutsy soul. Slim's guitar sound is a distinctive, stone dee-light. He has a tightly-wound, pinched, occasionally crunching tone that recalls (a bit) Chicago fret-masters Magic Sam and Otis Rush (not to mention Brit blues whiz Peter Green at his best).
While a few selections, "Before You Accuse Me," "Mind Your Own Business," are fairly by-the-numbers crowd pleasers (crowd + potent beverages + Saturday night), some selections are as good as it gets. "Crazy Woman" is a dyno-keen slow blues with amazing guitar picking and maximum soulful vocals (with a wee nod to Howlin' Wolf's rasp). Slim & pals put a new coat of paint on the standard "Mustang Sally" and as sick as I am of (most) guitar solos in general, "Playin' With My Mind" and "Black Tornado" should be played for all students of the six-string.
Essential is 15 slices of meat & potatoes (guitars, bass, drums, no big-name guest stars or drum samples) electric blues. But make no mistake, we're talking filet mignon and organically-grown spuds here, top-shelf variety. If you seek the lowdown on Magic Slim or just want some modern 'lectric blues that rise above "formula," THIS must be the place.