Nombre total de pages vues

mardi 22 novembre 2022

WILLIE MABON/ Complete Recordings 1949-69


WILLIE MABON/ Complete Recordings 1949-69


 I guess everybody following this blog knows for sure that the post war Chicago blues was not only Muddy Waters-Howlin' Wolf and such Delta blues transplanted in the Windy City. Chicago had its own burgeoning R&B scene, jazz inflected blues and cocktail lounges bluesy music.

          Willie Mabon (born in Hollywood, Tn, near Memphis 24th October 1925) is certainly, in his look as well as in his music, closer to Charles Brown and the California blues than to the Delta-Chicago style. His laid back manners, his soft insinuating voice, his halftones blues with humorous lyrics put Willie Mabon apart from the other Chess artists of the 1950's. After his service in the Marines, Willie came to live permanently in Chicago and embarked himself in a musical career. Influenced by Cripple Clarence Lofton, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Maceo and Sunnyland Sim, he developed a brilliant, classy piano style, also sometimes blowing a harmonica (his first instrument) on a rack. After being the pianist and sometimes vocalist of The Blues Rockers, Mabon waxed many records under his name and enjoyed some good hits (Poison Ivy, I'm mad, The seventh son, I don't know; I'm a fixer). But as so many bluesmen, he couldn't cope with the new Soul trends of the 60's and almost disappeared from the US blues scene. Thanks to French Black & Blue's Chicago Blues Festival tours, Mabon resumed his career in Europe after 1972, touring extensively and recording very good albums for French, British and German labels.

          He died of illness in Paris, France, on 19th April 1985.

          We have been able to gather all his US recordings from his Blues Rockers' beginnings in 1949 to his last Checker session in 1969. Thanks a lot to Jose Yraberra, Marc D. and Tom Thumb for providing some rare records.

                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT

The complete Mabon's 1949-69 discography is on the comments' links

lundi 14 novembre 2022

DRIFTING SLIM/ Complete Recordings



DRIFTING SLIM (Elmon Mickle)  Complete Recordings

(as: Drifting Slim, Harmonica Harry, T-Model Slim, Elmon Mickle)



  Aujourd'hui bien oublié sauf des habituels cercles d'amateurs de blues, Driftin' Slim nous laisse cependant une oeuvre relativement étoffée et de grande qualité. 

            Né Elmon Mickle à Keo dans l'Arkansas le 24 février 1919, il a appris très jeune la guitare et l'harmonica, favorisant surtout ce dernier instrument sous l'influence de John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson qu'il rencontre à plusieurs reprises, qui lui montre comment souffler dans un harmonica et qui restera d'ailleurs son maître tout au long de sa carrière et dont il reprendra nombre de compositions.  Installé à Little Rock, Elmon joue avec les bluesmen locaux comme Robert Nighthawk, Rice Miller tout en travaillant aux chemins de fer de l'Arkansas. Il participe aussi à plusieurs émissions de radio, notamment avec les excellents harmonicistes de Country Music Lonnie Glosson et Wayne Raney dont il s'inspirera aussi. En 1952, Mickle forme son propre blues band local avec Junior Brooks, Baby Face Turner et Sunny Blair. Chargé par Joe Bihari et Sam Phillips de trouver des bluesmen de talent, c'est le tout jeune Ike Turner qui débusque Mickle et le fait enregistrer sous le nom bien plus évocateur de Drifting Slim. Les disques semblent s'être vendus modérément mais permettent cependant à Elmon d'élargir son audience et de se produire un peu partout dans le Sud. Pour avoir de meilleures conditions de vie et de travail, Mickle s'installe à Los Angeles en 1957

            Là, il enregistre sporadiquement sous son nom ou celui de T-Model Slim, en particulier une version de Flat foot Sam de T.V. Slim qui a un certain succès local. Mais pour l'essentiel, il grave des 45t pour de petits labels locaux, parfois sa propre compagnie fondée avec son amie Ernie Pruitt. Pour des raisons économiques, Slim joue essentiellement en solo, s'accompagnant lui-même à la guitare, à l'harmonica et à la batterie actionnée par les pieds et ne se produit guère que dans des réunions privées. C'est grâce à la ténacité de Bruce Bromberg, Henry Vestine, Bob Hite (des Canned Heat) ainsi que de Frank Scott que Elmon Mickle/ T-Model Slim/ Driftin' Slim est retrouvé, un peu abasourdi de l'intérêt que lui portent ces jeunes gens blancs. Mais cette "redécouverte" lui permet de relancer sa carrière, de se produire sur scène et d'enregistrer un album entier pour le producteur Pete Welding. Plusieurs projets afin de le faire tourner en Europe sont échafaudés mais atteint d'un cancer, Elmon Mickle doit y renoncer et décède le 17 septembre 1977 à Los Angeles.

            Nous avons réuni ici la quasi-totalité des excellents enregistrements réalisés par Slim-Mickle sous ses différents pseudonymes, à l'exception d'un titre Good morning little school girl (en rouge dans la discographie)... Si quelque lecteur les possède, une copie serait grandement appréciée.

            Cet article s'appuie largement sur celui de Frank Scott paru dans le n° 40 de Blues Unlimited (janvier 1967). Toutes les photos sont de Frank Scott

                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT


            A little bit forgotten today outside the usual blues buffs, Driftin' Slim leaves anyway a substantial enough recording works and certainly one of a high blues quality.

            Born Elmon Mickle on February, 24th 1919, he learned at a young age the guitar and the harmonica, his main instrument, under the very strong influence of John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson whom he met several times. This influence is particularly prevalent in his playing and his repertoire (many titles come from Sonny Boy's songbook). Living in Little Rock and working for the local railroad company, Elmon formed his own blues band with such great musicians like Junior Brooks, Baby Face Turner, Sunny Blair... and appeared quite often in local radio programmes, sometime alongside Country Music harp masters Lonnie Glosson and Wayne Raney. In 1952, Ike Turner, then a young talent scout for Joe Bihari and Sam Phillips went to Little Rock and decided to record Mickle, giving him the nickname Driftin' Slim. The records have gained a worldwide reputation today but at that time they went almost nowhere and Mickle/ Slim moved to California in 1957, seeking better paid job opportunities.

            There he will record sporadically for small outfits, sometimes his own and very often paying himself the studio fares and under different names like his own and T-Model Slim. One title, Flatfoot Sam that he borrowed to T.V. Slim enjoyed a small local airplay. But for the most part Mickle played for private parties and rarely appeared in clubs. And for economical reasons, he performed mostly as a one-man band, playing harp with a rack, guitar and a kit drums with his feet. It will take the interest of a bunch of young local blues fans, Henry Vestine and Bob Hite (from the blues-rock band Canned Heat), Bruce Bromberg and Frank Scott for Elmon to be "rediscovered" in 1966. He then appeared in several venues, recorded a whole album for Pete Welding. He had to tour Europe but a bad cancer prevented him to be able to do so. He died in Los Angeles on September 17th, 1977.

            We have gathered here (thanks to all who shared their records for that purpose) almost all his recording works. One title Good morning little school girl (in red in the discography) is still missing. Any copy would be strongly appreciated and would receive full credits.

            This article is largely based upon Frank Scott's excellent rendition of Slim career (Blues Unlimited n°40/ January 1967). All photos are by Frank Scott.

                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT


Drifting Slim, vcl/hca; Junior Brooks, g; Baby Face Turner, g; Bill Russell, dms. Little Rock, Ark. novembre 1951

01. My little machine

02. Down South blues

Drifting Slim, vcl/hca; Sunny Blair, hca; Ike Turner, pno; Baby Face Turner, g; Bill Russell, dms. Little Rock, Ark. mars 1952

03. Good morning baby (blues)

04. My sweet woman

05. Shout sister shout

06. You're an old Lady

07. I feel so good

Drifting Slim, vcl/hca; Phillip Walker, g; Bobby Tinsley, dms. Los Angeles, Ca. novembre 1959

08. Flat foot Sam

09. I got to get some money

10. Lonesome highway

11. Jackson blues

Drifting Slim, vcl/hca/g; Ernie Pruitt, vcl; dms. Los Angeles, Ca. 1960

12. Whatever you're doing, keep on doing to me

13. Short'n'fat

Drifting Slim, hca; Ernie Pruitt, vcl; band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1962

14. Short and fat

AC-DC Current Swingers & The Hooks Brothers, band; Elmon Mickle, hca on *. Los Angeles, Ca. 1964

15. Natural blues*

Drifting Slim, vcl/hca; Jack Wall, g; bs; dms. Los Angeles, Ca. 1966

16. Shake your boogie

Good morning little schoolgirl

17. Jackson, Tennessee

18. T-Model Ford

19. Burnt out

Drifting Slim, vcl/hca; Philip Walker, g; Adolph Jacobs, g; bs; Jesse Price, dms. Los Angeles, mai 1966

20. Somebody voodooed the hoodoo man

21. You're growing old Lady

Drifting Slim, vcl/hca; Little Boyd, hca; poss; Philip Walker, g; Ken Walk, g; bs; Jesse Price, dms. Los Angeles, Ca. juin 1966

22. Short and Fat

23. Woman's the glory of a man

24. 15 years my love was in vain

25. Take my hand

26. Flat Foot Sam always in a jam I

27. Flat Foot Sam always in a jam II

28. Oh baby

29. Sit there mama

30. Sir C Lee

31. Black gal

32. Whose mule is that in my stable?

Drifting Slim, vcl/hca/g/dms. Los Angeles, Ca. 3 décembre 1966

33. Jonah

34. How many more years?

35. Mama blues

36. I'm hunting somebody

37. Standing around crying

38. Jack o'Diamonds

39. This world is none of my home

40. A drip of snuff and a narrow escape

41. Till I got sixteen

42. My little machine

Drifting Slim, vcl/hca. Los Angeles, Ca. 13 janvier 1967

43. Slow train to Arkansas

44. T-Model and the train

Drifting Slim, vcl/hca; Jack Wall, g; Ike Parker, bs; Guy Jones, dms. Los Angeles, Ca. 26 juin 1967

45. Hoodoo man blues

46. Give an account

47. Mama don't tear my clothes

48. Christine blues

49. Jackson blues (Jackson, Tennessee)

Drifting Slim, vcl/hca; J.D. Nicholson, pno; Buddy Reed, g; Greg Schaefer, g; Jerry Smith, bs; Dick Innes, dms. Los Angeles, Ca. 16 novembre 1969

Don't start me to talkin' (unissued)

 The very best harmonica shop is here