Combining sessions that blues pianist Sunnyland Slim and blues guitarist Johnny Shines recorded separately on the same day in Chicago in 1968 for the Blue Horizon imprint, this interesting little set shows two blues veterans doing what it was they did, which was, in part, to push and pull the Delta blues one small step closer to being in the modern urban world. The Slim sides, several of which are new to digital disc, are a bit more interesting than the Shines sides, but only by degree. Slim's songs can appear on the surface to be tossed-off exercises in the usual blues clichés, but they were actually carefully written, while Shines worked similar territory, giving old blues figures a slightly ironic twist. Since both played at one time or another with Robert Johnson, and both straddle the old and new worlds of the blues as it transfigured into an electric and urban form, it makes perfect sense to stick these two sessions together in one package.
JSP, one of the U.K.'s most active historical reissue labels, presents an outstanding postwar Chicago blues anthology packed with essential recordings made between 1947 and 1955 by Sunnyland Slim & His Pals. Out of the 104 tracks (not 97 as stated on the front of the packaging), 60 are "by" Sunnyland Slim; the other 44 were released under the names of Johnny Shines, Robert Lockwood, Floyd Jones, Leroy Foster, J.B. Lenoir, Jimmy Rogers, and St. Louis Jimmy. Sunnyland sat in on each of these dates; the enclosed discography denies his presence on the Johnny Shines date, although his piano is clearly audible…
One of the more imposing figures on modern blues scene, guitarist-singer Magic Slim serves up raw, passionate Chicago-style blues with his band The Teardrops on Scufflin’ (Blind Pig 5036; 40:53). Raucous, good-time romps like “Hole In The Wall,” Jimmy Reed’s “Down In Virginia” and Slim’s shuffle “Just Before You Go” sound like just another Saturday night at Florence’s on the South Side. And Slim imbues each tune with nasty licks from his trusty Fender Jazzmaster. Sloppy but powerfully intense, like the spirits of Albert King and Hound Dog Taylor mingling at a juke joint jam.
The original soundtrack to Steven Soderbergh's striking drug war drama Traffic features Cliff Martinez's sparse, evocative score, classical pieces, and electronica, resulting in a collection of music that's nearly as complex and diverse as the film it accompanies. Martinez, who has scored virtually all of Soderbergh's films (except Erin Brockovich), proves once again why they work together so often: the score's atmospheric drones and understated rhythms build a restrained, implosive tension far better than blaring orchestral pieces. Like the film itself, Martinez' pieces aren't obvious. They don't tell the listener what to feel; they just set the scene and let the audience fill in the blanks. And though big beat songs like Fatboy Slim's "Give the Po' Man a Break" and Kruder & Dorfmeister's remix of Rockers Hi-Fi's "Going Under" could be too much of a contrast with Martinez' airy compositions, the album is deftly sequenced, allowing for the highs and lows of the score and songs like Morcheeba's "On the Road Again," Wilhelm Kempff's "Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor," and Brian Eno's "An Ending (Ascent)." Though it sounds even better in conjunction with the film, Traffic is still one of 2000's best soundtracks.