How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
One look at Magic Slim’s glowering face on the cover of this CD and it’s clear the big man means business. At age 62, the Magic one shows no signs of mellowing. Snakebite rocks ferociously, thanks in large part to the leader's raw guitar playing.
This is the Teardrops' most diverse effort to date, and all the tracks are passionate. In addition to edgy numbers like the Slim original "Please Don’t Dog Me" and Muddy Waters’ "Country Boy," the album contains a danceable rock ‘n roll cut ("Shake It"), a gritty funk number ("Key to Your Door") and a fiery slide-driven instrumental ("Snakebite"). Seven of the 11 tracks are originals.
Slim’s voice is still as muddy as the Mississippi, and his band remains an imposing force of nature. Slim’s brother Nick Holt plucks the bass, Allen Kirk bangs the skins, and Michael Dotson again proves himself a worthy replacement for John Primer on second guitar. (Dotson also plays and sings lead on the tune "Lonesome Trouble.")
Slim’s guitar playing is so fetchingly feral, one might not realize he spent countless years perfecting his sound. After an initial stint in Chicago during the late 1950s, Slim returned to his native Mississippi for five years to hone his blues chops. Today his music combines the rough-and-tumble Magic Sam sound (Sam was Slim’s mentor), a house-rocking energy gleaned from Hound Dog Taylor, and a beguiling coarseness that’s straight from the Delta.
If Slim and the Teardrops have a coequal in the parallel universe of rock ‘n roll, that would be Neil Young and Crazyhorse. Both are hard-rocking electric outfits that favor energy over subtlety. Both make music that‘s bracingly unpolished and somehow more honest than most.
Snakebite takes no prisoners. This is hardcore electric blues from a great band.