Friday, August 31, 2018

Another Blues Fix Mix CD - Volume Two, Track Ten

For Track Ten, we're going to keep things rolling in Louisiana, with one of the most successful of Excello Record's stable of swamp blues artists, Slim Harpo.  As I mentioned in my previous post a couple of weeks ago, I've been digging deep into the sounds of the swamp with Ace's Bluesin' By The Bayou series, and Mr. Harpo has several tracks included in that series (and graces the cover of the second volume).  I first got into the Excello catalog via Hip-O's House Rockin' & Hip Shakin' series of releases in the late 90's and if you can track either of these series down......even a volume or two of each, they are well worth any blues fan's time.

Mr. Slim Harpo was born James Moore in 1924 and worked as a longshoreman and construction worker as a youth, playing music on the side under the name Harmonica Slim, sometimes accompanying his brother-in-law Lightnin' Slim.  When he started recording for Excello in the late 50's, he changed his stage name to Slim Harpo to avoid confusion with another performer using the Harmonica Slim name.  Harpo's first recording, and hit, was "I'm A King Bee," but it wasn't his last.  His first chart hit was "Rainin' In My Heart," in 1961.

Harpo was influenced by Jimmy Reed, but his music was actually more accessible to a wider audience than Reed's.  One of the best descriptions I've read of Harpo was that his voice reminded one writer of a cross between a black blues singer singing country and a white country singer singing the blues.  His music used rock n' roll influences at times and his singing was reminiscent of country music at times.  In fact, his music has been recorded by artists of multiple genres over the years.

Harpo's biggest hit was released in 1966 and is this week's Blues Fix Mix track, "Baby Scratch My Back."  Largely instrumental, it hit #1 on the R&B charts and #16 on the pop charts.  Like most of his other recordings, it had a little blues, a little rock, and a little country music mixed together.......the essence of Swamp Blues.


Harpo was beginning to expand his audience in the late 60's with regular touring, and was gaining a larger fan base from young rock n' roll fans.  While getting ready for a tour of Europe with some recording sessions mixed in, he suddenly died of a heart attack at age 46.  His impressive body of work is available in several different collections for several different labels and any blues fan needs to have some of it in their collection.

Since our posting has been a bit erratic this summer......thanks for hanging in there with's a list of Volume Two's tracks to date:

"Mannish Boy" - Muddy Waters
"Big Legs" - Zuzu Bollin
"If It Wasn't For Bad Luck" - Lee "Shot" Williams
"Taylor Rock" - Sonny Landreth
"How'd You Learn To Shake It Like That" - Snooky Pryor with Eddie Taylor
"The Score" - The Robert Cray Band
"Ninety-Nine" - Bobby Rush
"Your Love Is Like A Cancer" - The Son Seals Blues Band
"Rats & Roaches In My Kitchen" - Larry Garner
"Baby Scratch My Back" - Slim Harpo

Friday, August 3, 2018

Another Blues Fix Mix CD - Volume Two, Track Nine

Over the last few weeks, your humble correspondent has been taking in quite a bit of swamp blues via the Ace UK Bluesin' By The Bayou series (which I hope to post about in the near future).  I spent a large chunk of the Amazon card I received for my birthday to catch up with this series, along with some previously mentioned items and a few others that I haven't gotten to just yet, and I'll save the details for that later post, but one of the songs in the collection is a little blues ditty from 1962 by Silas Hogan called "Trouble At Home Blues," that's is a classic example of swamp blues......a little country and a little rock n' roll and a lot of blues.

Hearing that track again reminded me of the next selection on Volume Two of our Blues Fix Mix CD, which is a reconstruction of "Trouble At Home Blues" from one of my favorite modern-day swamp blues artists, Mr. Larry Garner, who recorded it as "Rats And Roaches In My Kitchen" (as Hogan did later in his career) for his mid 90's Verve/Gitanes release You Need To Live A Little.  Where Hogan was backed by harmonica on his version for Excello, Garner opted for a little extra guitar support from that slide guitar master Sonny Landreth (who previously appeared on Track Four of this volume).  

Garner has a lot of fun with his's not quite as somber and forlorn as Hogan's rendition.....and he and Landreth work very well together.  You Need To Live A Little is probably my favorite Larry Garner album (and the first I was able to track down) and this tune is a big reason.  Check it out and see if you agree.

Garner is also one of the finest songwriters currently practicing in the blues genre, so if you aren't familiar with him and you dig the blues, you really should be.