Sunday, November 9, 2008

No Paid Holidays reviewed by Steve Jones

No Paid Holidays
Watermelon Slim and the Workers
Northern Blues Music
14 tracks

Watermelon Slim has become an icon of the blues scene. With a dozen nominations for Blues Music Awards in the past two years, he has received a level of recognition that no other blues artist has. Only Buddy Guy and BB King have received six nominations in a year, but even they have not done so in consecutive years.

The reason for this was two fantastic CD releases. 2006’s “Watermelon Slim and the Workers” propelled him on to the blues scene while 2007’s “Wheel Man” pushed him to the pinnacle. Where could he go from there? Could he produce a third hit CD in three years? Well, he certainly did. He backed up those two releases with a third consecutive album that equals them, if not even surpasses them in some ways.

Slim belts out his songs from the heart. Here is a man who has lived the blues. He is a disgruntled Vietnam veteran; a man who has worked the fields, driven trucks and done odd jobs to sustain himself. Whether he is doing songs in a field holler style or as a soft ballad, one can feel that he’s often been run hard and put away wet.

“The Burmese Blues” returns us to a day when older readers can remember the troubles of an unpopular war. Slim hollers out, “I’m just an innocent bystander!” and we can feel the emotion of that bygone era still bottled up in the man.

In I’ve Got a Toothache” Slim lispingly recites the words over a mean slide acoustic resonator groove. Here is a man who has had his share of dental problems (anyone who has met him or looked at his smiling photos can attest); toothaches are something we can all relate to and he brings us his pain with real empathy.

The opener “Blues for Howard” is a rocking blues number with a great barrelhouse piano solo and Slim just hollering out the vocals. This is a song that gets the listener up and noticing that the band can really bring it. If your pulse does not rise while listening to this song your may be certifiably dead.

He goes from the Delta and field hollers to smooth Chicago blues and presents the listener with a glimpse of real life in his great songs and delivery. Most tunes are here are originals and demonstrate Slims’ skills in songwriting, but he can even deliver the goods in overdone standards. He blasts out an old favorite like “Call My Job,” giving it an air of freshness .

Top to bottom this is a great CD with no flaws and lots to offer the listener. I went out and bought a personal copy of this disc right after listening to the review copy– it’s that good. Watermelon Slim is a hot commodity and this third CD in three years is sure to garner him a number of new award nominations!

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