Home » Jazz Articles » Reassessing » Sunnyland Slim: House Rent Party

6

Sunnyland Slim: House Rent Party

By

Sign in to view read count
A key figure in turning the blues from a rural to an urban art form, Sunnyland Slim was not just a true embodiment of a pure Mississippi Delta piano style but an innovator of a new kind of blues.
Sunnyland Slim: House Rent Party
Nothing sparks musical intrigue like a trip back in time. Such was the case when in 1992, Delmark Records released Sunnyland Slim's House Rent Party, featuring Jimmy Rogers, Willie Mabon and St. Louis Jimmy Oden. A part of their Apollo series, it gave blues enthusiasts an audio lens into the budding of Chicago blues.

Tracing back to St. Louis, Missouri, Delmark has been a trusted label for jazz and blues music since 1953. In 1962, label owner Bob Koester purchased Apollo's jazz and blues catalogs. Among the artist's recordings acquired were Chicago blues pianist and elder statesman Sunnyland Slim, (born Albert Luandrew).

Over forty years after the event, Delmark's release House Rent Party showcases Slim's Apollo recordings. The album features nine previously unreleased tracks "Hard Time (When Mothers Gone)," "I'm in Love," "Nervous Breakdown," and "Old Age Has Got Me," combined with alternate takes on the songs "I'm Just a Lonesome Man" and "Sad Old Sunday." A key figure in turning the blues from a rural to an urban art form, Sunnyland's instantly recognizable barrel house piano style and rising falsetto helped define the golden age of Chicago blues.

Operating on the South side, Slim traveled from Mississippi to Memphis, settling in Chicago in the 1930s. By the 1940s, he had recorded eight sides for RCA Victor label. Songs such as "Across the Hall Blues," I Got a Broken Heart," "I'm Broken," and "Walking Shoes," earned the traveling bluesman a permanent residency in the Windy City's emerging blues scene.

It would be Slim's recordings, during August 26th and 28th of 1949—on the Apollo recording label that document the genesis of the new urbanized style.

From the onset, House Rent Party catapults the listener to the scene of 1940s Chicago. Sunnyland's "I'm Just a Lonesome Man" is a steady rolling blues featuring guitar work from Sam Casimer. Slim's voice is powerful, and his piano is articulate and to the point.

Switching to St. Louis Jimmy Oden on lead vocal, "Sad Ole Sunday," finds Oden lamenting the loss of his mother while Slim hammers out cascading piano responses. Oden, a successful singer and songwriter originally from Nashville, Tennessee, recorded the hits "Going Down Slow," "Take the Bitter with the Sweet" and "Soon Forgotten," also later recorded by his friend Muddy Waters.

Another highlight on the album is the singing and piano work of Willie Mabon. The song "Boogie Man," a fun little number with down home country harmonica, contrasts with the more sincere blues numbers on the album. Also featured on the disk are "Chicago Woman" and "That's Alright" by Jimmy Rogers. Rogers would join the original Muddy Waters band in the 1950s. A Blues Hall of Famer, Rogers' song, "That's All Right" was inducted by the organization in 2016 as a "Classic of Blues Recording," which identified it as a blues standard.

In preserving Slim's legacy, Delmark's House Rent Party successfully sheds light on the importance of this legendary Chicago Blues giant. Sunnyland Slim was not just a true embodiment of a pure Mississippi Delta piano style, but an innovator of a new kind of blues.

Track Listing

I'm Just a Lonesome Man; Sad Old Sunday (Mother's Day); Boogie Man; Hard Time (When Mother's Gone); Chicago Woman; I'm in Love; Bad Times (Cost of Living); Nervous Breakdown; It Keeps Rainin; Brown Skin Woman; Old Age Has Got Me; That's All Right; Sad Old Sunday [alternate take]; I'm Just a Lonesome Man [alternate take]; Bad Times" [alternate take]

Personnel

Jimmy Rodgers
guitar and vocals
Willie Mabon
piano and vocals
St. Louis Jimmy Oden
piano and vocals
Sam Casimir
guitar
Earl Dranes
guitar
Additional Instrumentation

Willie Mabon; harmonica.

Album information

Title: House Rent Party | Year Released: 1992 | Record Label: Delmark Records


Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Shadow
Lizz Wright
Caught In My Own Trap
Kirke Karja / Étienne Renard / Ludwig Wandinger
Horizon Scanners
Jim Baker / Steve Hunt / Jakob Heinemann

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.