In this charming solo piano session recorded in Stockholm, Sweden in 1974, Sunnyland Slim works the empty studio exactly as he would a small blues club, casually (but not without purpose) introducing several of the songs, setting them up with what would initially appear to be random piano trills and vocal asides, and then the song slips in and begins as the most natural thing in the world. This kind of up close intimacy makes this set, which was originally released in 1974 as part of Samuel Charters' Legacy of the Blues series, a particularly compelling portrait.
Although Slim's songs can appear on the surface to be tossed-off exercises in the usual blues clichés, they were actually carefully written, and pieces here like the powerful "Couldn't Find a Mule" and the equally as striking "Days of Old" emerge as deeply personal accounts of racism and social injustice, both delivered with a relaxed approach that greatly adds to their impact.
On the flip side, the bright "I Had It Hard" manages to be upbeat and redemptive while still being very much the blues. Sunnyland Slim had a long career (he made his first recordings in 1947 for RCA and worked virtually up until his death in 1995) and made countless recordings, as well as being an in-demand Chicago session player on piano (although his piano style, at least here, is all Memphis), but this wonderful solo set gives him the full stage, and he knows exactly what to do with it.
|Couldn't Find a Mule / Albert Luandrew||Sunnyland Slim||5:07|
|Gonna Be My Baby / Albert Luandrew||Sunnyland Slim||2:36|
|Woman I Ain't Gonna Drink No More Whiskey / Albert Luandrew||Sunnyland Slim||3:14|
|Days of Old / Albert Luandrew||Sunnyland Slim||6:04|
|She Got a Thing Goin' On / Albert Luandrew||Sunnyland Slim||4:36|
|She's So Mellow / Albert Luandrew||Sunnyland Slim||3:41|
|Get Hip to Yourself / Albert Luandrew||Sunnyland Slim||2:49|
|Bessie Mae / Albert Luandrew||Sunnyland Slim||4:39|
|I Had It Hard / Albert Luandrew||Sunnyland Slim||3:04|
|She Used to Love Me / Albert Luandrew||Sunnyland Slim||2:58|