John Primer

Live At Rosa’s Lounge: Teardrops for Magic Slim

While working on this review, the announcement came out that John Primer was one of several very well-deserving blues artists that will be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame this coming May. Being someone who has: worked on spreading the word about many of his releases; seen his live shows more times than I can count; and has the pleasure of calling him – and his family – my friends; I am very happy to say “Congratulations, John, you are indeed the real deal”.

Before I tell you a bit about Teardrops For Magic Slim, I’d like to tell you what Lisa Primer, the album’s producer had to say about it on the liner notes…..

“This tribute to Magic Slim is a labor of love. John Primer & The Teardrops want to bring Magic Slim back into focus and shine a light on what they accomplished together. They want the younger generation to listen to Magic Slim & The Teardrops’ music and to realize where the music came from. Magic Slim was a giant in the blues world! John was given the opportunity to stand on his shoulders and to carry the blues forward. This tribute is a gift to Magic Slim for all that he did for the blues world! We hope everyone will research Magic Slim & The Teardrops, pay them the respect they deserve and enjoy the music they made together!

Teardrops For Magic Slim is a nearly seventy-minute recording of twelve songs most commonly associated with Magic Slim & The Teardrops. The album features John “The Real Deal” Primer – on lead guitar and vocals – being joined by The Teardrops: Jon McDonald on guitar; Earl Howell and Lenny Media on drums; and Danny O’Conner on bass; with special guest Shawn Holt – Magic Slim’s son, who’s sometimes called “Lil’ Slim” – on guitar and vocals.

If there were ever a review I could – as the expression goes – phone in, this would be it. C’mon, it’s soon to be Blues Hall of Famer John Primer, with The Teardrops, doing songs of Magic Slim and the Teardrops. That alone already has most of you trying to get your hands on a copy, so I could simply tell you how to do that and close it out right now…..but I won’t. Let me at least tell you about a few of these killer tracks.

The disc opens with J B Lenoir’s “Mama Talk To Your Daughter”. As is the case with just about all of these songs being good ol’ traditional blues, and all of them featuring several monster guitarists as well, there will be plenty of smokin’ guitar licks. This one features John and Shawn swapping turns making that happen while Lenny and Danny lay down the smokin’ rhythm.

“Every Night And Day” (Jimmy McCracklin) is a slow blues song that starts off with extended scorching guitar licks by John with background howling being heard from the live audience at Rosa’s. Then once he starts growling out the song’s lyrics, the track becomes a typical John Primer blues smoker. It just doesn’t get much better than this.

“Trouble On My Own” is the disc’s only track that was actually written by Magic Slim, a.k.a. Morris Holt. It’s pretty much more of what I just said above but this time it’s Jon McDonald joining in on rhythm guitar, and the great slow blues rhythm groove is now being laid down by Earl on the drums and Danny on the bass. Saying this borders on ridiculous, but this one does feature some of the disc’s best guitar work.

The Elmore James penned song “It Hurts Me Too” has always been one of my favorite blues songs so I was quite happy to see and hear it here. With Shawn both belting out the vocals and killing it on the scorching guitar leads this smoker is pretty much all “Lil” Slim”……errrrr, that is until Mr. Real Deal jumps in and rips off some heat of his own. This one could very well be the crème de la crème.

“The Things That I Used To Do” (Eddie Jones) is another classic that I have heard done so good, by so many different artists. You know the song, you know these artists (John, Jon, Earl and Danny) so there’s just no need to say another word.

The disc closes out with “Little” Milton Campbells’ body shaking, sing-a-long called “The Blues Is Alright”. C’mon now, you know what to do….”Hey, hey, the blues is alright”…..oh yeah, the live audience sure has it goin’ on. Once again, you know the song and you know the artists (this time it’s John, Shawn, Lenny and Danny) so now I’m really done here.

Other tracks on this dynamite disc include: “Luv Somebody” (Jimmy Dawkins); “Ain’t Doing Too Bad” (D. Malone); “Buddy Buddy Friend” (Aaron Corthen); “Let Me Love You Baby” (Willie Dixon); “Look Over Yonder Wall” (Elmore James); and “Before You Accuse Me” (Ellas McDaniel).

On a side note: there are a very few select artists who when they release a new album, I pretty much feel bad for the rest of the field releasing an album in that same category because although there is supposedly no such thing as a lock, these few are as close as you get, and John Primer is one of those few. This year he’s got Hard Times being the one to beat in May and now next year he’ll have Teardrops For Magic Slim as being the one to beat. Maybe, like B. B., Pinetop and Koko, it just might be time to name an award after him. – Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro

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