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Watermelon Slim & the WorkersReviews

Chris Puyear

December 2005
more reviews of Watermelon Slim & the Workers
"I couldn't catch a cold, I couldn't pitch a fit, I'm waist deep in alligators, sometimes I'm neck deep in bull shit ... Hard times". That's a line from Hard Times the opening track on Watermelon Slim & The Workers' new CD. There are other good lines but that's my favorite and it explains in a nutshell what Slim is about, hard times, work and real life blues. If you get the feeling when listening to Slim's music that he has lived what he sings about then you would be correct. Watermelon Slim & The Workers seems to be a fitting name for Slim's latest incarnation. I have seen Slim live both solo and with this band in it's early stage and this release captures the live band well.

Here is the short story on my favorite tracks.
The beat, the slide guitar and the words of Hard Times fit together like a glove, it's a song with great lyrics and a smooth sound, the slide has a big full sound that just hangs in the air. Dumpster Blues may seem like a odd title but it works, Slim sings a story about driving a truck down the road with an over weight dumpster on the back, this one gives you a taste of Slim's harp playing and has a nice groove too. The band does what I can only describe as a modern version of Robert Johnson going to the crossroads, Devil's Cadillac has a erie rolling beat with lyrics about making a deal with the devil, it works well. Slim's songs often have that real life theme and Check Writing Woman is no exception, it's a rockin number with lot's of harp and piano and actually has a little solo that echos Chuck Berry (at least to my ears), this is a good thing.

The band applies the air brakes on Possum Hand , this is a super smooth and classic sounding harp based instrumental that really shows off the whole band, a nice slow grooving number. (That's classic harp with a capital C). Mack Truck has Slim doing his trucking version of the double meaning risqué blues. "I'm a Mack Truck Bumper Baby, I'm Long & I'm Hard", although new to us it's classic blues style. Slim really wails and cries the blues on Bad Sinner , I really enjoy this song, it features lot's of slide guitar and Slim just wailing away, a song title I am sure many can relate to. Juke Joint Woman is a pleasant to listen to song. This one takes a bit of a turn with a New Orleans style rolling beat, it all goes together well, music, lyrics and even some background singing. His woman is out every night, he's home with the kids, just good modern real life blues. 

Another hard working song is Hard Labor , another good example of Slim singing about what he knows well, working. The final track on this CD was a real surprise for me, Eau De Boue is a solo Cajun style song in French, just Slim and his slide. The Cd case gives a translation, I won't spoil it for you. Slim does two covers on this Disc both are old classics, Baby Please Don't Go and Frisco Line . Both are done in a way that does them justice but makes them all Slim. All the rest of the 14 tracks were written by Slim or Slim & Michael Newberry or Ike Lamb. I can't say enough about The Workers on this Cd (and the live shows) Slim does his part but it takes a good band to just keep up, they all sound great and this Cd was recorded in a way to make them sound like they really sound, not studio engineered (they don't need help).

If you have read my reviews of Slim's previous releases or you know me, then you know I am a big fan. I have been telling anyone who would listen that Slim is the real deal, some just don't seem to really listen or "get it", it seems that Fred at Northern Blues finally "got it" after seeing Slim live and actually listening, he signed Slim and the band. Slim was with Southern Records in Oklahoma for his last two releases and this CD was recorded in Oklahoma and mixed/produced by Chris at Southern Records. He did a great job of recording the band as they sound live and that is a great sound.

I first listened to this CD while welding and working in my shop, then while driving and now at my computer, it sounds good anywhere. Slim's writing and singing has a style of his own but has that familiar classic blues sound, it's the sound of a real experienced bluesman pouring his soul out in music. Hearing someone sing with serious feeling and real character in their voice is something rarely heard in the modern world of blues, Slim pulls it off with ease. Watermelon Slim and the Workers seem to work for me and I am sure they will work for you too.

" ... it seems that Fred at Northern Blues finally got it after seeing Slim live and actually listening, he signed Slim and the band. "