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I'm a King Bee: The Early Swamp Blues Classics

Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, December 27, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The earliest recordings by the King Bee bluesman are documented on this 24 track CD with notes from harmonica ace Paul Jones.

Review

In the large stable of blues talent that Crowley, LA, producer Jay Miller recorded for the Nashville-based Excello label, no one enjoyed more mainstream success than Slim Harpo. Just a shade behind Lightnin' Slim in local popularity, Harpo played both guitar and neck-rack harmonica in a more down-home approximation of Jimmy Reed, with a few discernible, and distinctive, differences. Harpo's music was certainly more laid-back than Reed's, if such a notion was possible. But the rhythm was insistent and, overall, Harpo was more adaptable than Reed or most other bluesmen. His material not only made the national charts, but also proved to be quite adaptable for white artists on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Kinks, Dave Edmunds with Love Sculpture, Van Morrison with Them, Sun rockabilly singer Warren Smith, Hank Williams, Jr., and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

A people-pleasing club entertainer, he certainly wasn't above working rock & roll rhythms into his music, along with hard-stressed, country & western vocal inflections. Several of his best tunes were co-written with his wife Lovelle and show a fine hand for song construction, appearing to have arrived at the studio pretty well formed. His harmonica playing was driving and straightforward, full of surprising melody, while his vocals were perhaps best described by writer Peter Guralnick as ''if a black country & western singer or a white rhythm & blues singer were attempting to impersonate a member of the opposite genre.'' And here perhaps was Harpo's true genius, and what has allowed his music to have a wider currency. By the time his first single became a Southern jukebox favorite, his songs were being adapted and played by white musicians left and right. Here was good-time Saturday-night blues that could be sung by elements of the Caucasian persuasion with a straight face. Nothing resembling the emotional investment of a Howlin' Wolf or a Muddy Waters was required; it all came natural and easy, and its influence has stood the test of time.

He was born James Moore just outside of Baton Rouge, LA. After his parents died, he dropped out of school to work every juke joint, street corner, picnic, and house rent party that came his way. By this time he had acquired the alias of Harmonica Slim, which he used until his first record was released. It was fellow bluesman Lightnin' Slim who first steered him to local recordman J.D. Miller. The producer used him as an accompanist to Hopkins on a half-dozen sides before recording him on his own. When it came time to release his first single (I'm a King Bee), Miller informed him that there was another Harmonica Slim recording on the West Coast, and a new name was needed before the record could come out. Moore's wife took the slang word for harmonica, added an ''o'' to the end of it, and a new stage name was the result, one that would stay with Slim Harpo the rest of his career.

Harpo's first record became a double-sided R&B hit, spawning numerous follow-ups on the ''King Bee'' theme, but even bigger was Rainin' in My Heart, which made the Billboard Top 40 pop charts in the summer of 1961. It was another perfect distillation of Harpo's across-the-board appeal, and was immediately adapted by country, Cajun, and rock & roll musicians; anybody could play it and sound good doing it. In the wake of the Rolling Stones covering I'm a King Bee on their first album, Slim had the biggest hit of his career in 1966 with Baby, Scratch My Back. Harpo described it ''as an attempt at rock & roll for me,'' and its appearance in Billboard's Top 20 pop charts prompted the dance-oriented follow-ups Tip on In and Tee-Ni-Nee-Ni-Nu, both R&B charters. --Cub Koda, All Music Guide

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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. I'm A King Bee
  2. I Got Love If You Want It
  3. Wonderin' And Worryin'
  4. Strange Love
  5. You'll Be Sorry One Day
  6. One More Day
  7. Bobby Sox Baby
  8. Late Last Night
  9. Buzz Me Babe
  10. Dream Girl
  11. Yeah Yeah Baby
  12. What A Dream
  13. Don't Start Cryin' Now
  14. Blues Hang-Over
  15. Moody Blues
  16. My Home Is A Prison
  17. Please Don't Turn Me Down
  18. Snoopin' Around
  19. Rainin' In My Heart
  20. That's Alright Baby
  21. Lover's Confession
  22. Buzzin'
  23. I Love The Life I'm Living
  24. Boogie Chillun


Product details

  • Audio CD (December 27, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Ace Records UK
  • ASIN: B000026A9F
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,478 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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on November 21, 2013
Format: Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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on February 27, 2013
Format: Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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on March 7, 2015
Format: Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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on October 13, 2014
Format: Audio CD
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