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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Slim Harpo -- Baby, Scratch My Back

Slim Harpo's Blues is that of a people pleasing entertainer. I'd call it Pop/Blues, which probably sounds more negative than it's intended to do. The mixture of Rock, Country, Soul and Blues is definitely nothing the Blues purists would consider the "real thing." It is probably best described as "Blues light." I like the sound, which Peter Guralnick has been quoted to define as "if a black country and western singer or a white rhythm and blues singer were attempting to impersonate a member of the opposite genre." There's nothing to add to this definition -- it's pefect.

All in all, it appears that Slim Harpo was trying to bleach the blue out of the Blues, so to speak. White musicians loved to cover his material (which was often co-written by Harpo's wife.) His harmonica style as well as singing were rather pleasing and easy-going.

Slim Harpo was born James Moore on January 11, 1924 near Baton Rouge, LA. He left school after the death of his parents and went straight into the Blues business, making a living playing in juke joints, on street corners and private parties. Until the release of his first record, he called himself Harmonica Slim; he had to drop the name because there was already someone recording by that name. His wife came up withe the name Harpo, derived from the vernacular term "harp" for harmonica.
Already his first single "King Bee" turned out to be a double-sided hit. But "Raining In My Heart" was even a greater success in 1961. His biggest hit would be "Baby, Scratch My Back," though, which made it into the Billboard Top 20.
He died unexpectedly on January 31, 1970 of a heart attack while touring Europe.

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