Alabama Slim Takes No-Frills Approach to the Blues on ‘The Parlor’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

When you look at the history of the blues, you see quite a few artists that were “discovered” later in life. Alabama Slim is one of those artists. He was born in 1939 and grew up listening to 78s of artists like Big Bill Broonzy and Lightnin’ Hopkins. After Hurricane Katrina, Slim and his cousin Little Freddie King moved to Dallas (they have since returned to New Orleans) and started writing some songs together, which is good news for fans of the blues.

The new album The Parlor is named for the New Orleans studio where it was recorded. The album was recorded in just four hours in June 2019. It’s hard to imagine anyone recording 10 songs in just four hours. It’s even harder to imagine that such a minimal amount of time could result in such a solid record.

You can hear how all of those old blues records influenced Slim. At the beginning of the album, you hear a boogie sound similar to John Lee Hooker. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself tapping your foot when you hear “Hot Foot” and “Freddie’s Voodoo Boogie”. You might even want to put your sunglasses on – just like John Lee Hooker. It’s not all boogie though. There are some slow blues shuffles, like “Rob Me without a Gun,” that would make Jimmy Reed proud.

One of the songs on the album is “Forty Jive”. He sings about a fool with a “mail-order bride and a dead cat for hair, bragging that he’s the richest man alive.” Over a soulful melody with a great organ part, he sings “drink the Kool-Aid and look away.” Granted, the song would have had more impact if it were released when Trump was still in office, but still, it’s a pretty scathing indictment of the former president and the culture that allowed him to rise to that position.

There’s nothing too fancy about this album, but it doesn’t need anything fancy. This is just a great blues album with songs that is as great for sitting on a porch with a cold beverage by your feet as it is for getting your boogie on in your living room. 

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