Memphis Slim, Memphis Slim, U.S.A.

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
1961 sides from the down-home blues sophisticate.

Though he came up in rough Beale Street joints, when he moved to Chicago in the '30s, Peter Chatmon, aka Memphis Slim, sought to bring urban sophistication to the blues while remaining down-home. He had a lighter touch than most, but his keyboards could thunder when he wanted; his voice was rich and lustrous and his songwriting (as on "I'd Take Her to Chicago") was smart. These 1961 sides, with Arbee Stidham on guitar and vocals and Jazz Gillum on harmonica and vocals, are a low-key tour-de-force, from the flourishes of "Just Let Me Be" to the flurries of "Red Haired Boogie."