5-CD boxed set (LP-size) with 104 page hardcover book, 142 tracks. Total playing time approx. 410 minutes.
• CDs 1 and 2 hold all Slim Harpo’s Excello label 45s and original album tracks.
• CDs 3 and 4 have all the recordings unissued in Harpo’s lifetime and all the alternative takes of issued songs.
• CD 5 features a live recording made in 1961, one of the very earliest to capture an original and important blues artist in their prime.
• There are four previously unissued live songs and one previously unknown song.
Slim Harpo made his impressive entrance into the world of blues recordings in 1957. Here was a man with an unforgettable name, a strong song – I’m A King Bee – and a finely-crafted minimalist style, at once familiar and novel. In 1961 Slim Harpo made a crossover entry into the American Rhythm ‘n’ Blues and Popular Music charts when Rainin’ In My Heart became one of those barely-categorisable hits that just couldn’t be ignored. Then came Baby, Scratch My Back, a soulful rhythmic number that led to tours with the rock elite. The story of Slim Harpo and his music is among the most fascinating in all blues and Rhythm ‘n’ Blues. Harpo’s music had timeless and mellow qualities that made his sound both authentic and accessible. By many benchmarks he was a success, and for periods in his life he was in the spotlight, yet little, really, is known of him beyond his fading circle of musicians, friends, and family in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Born in 1924, he was among the last of the original down-home bluesmen, but also one of the first to register hits in the popular music charts. Harpo lived, worked, and performed most of his life in Louisiana, but he was feted in the rock music circles of New York and Los Angeles when he did appear there in his last few years. Apparently an unassuming and calm man, he nevertheless developed a very polished and slick stage appearance. He died at the age of forty-five, leaving behind one of the most consistently good and coherent bodies of blues recordings. Harpo made music that was ‘pure’ blues in a number of forms but also borrowed from and wandered into soul and country styles without losing face.
It’s easy to listen to, easy to love, but real. It has an underlying intensity that continues to make it appealing to generations of performers who have recorded Harpo’s songs down the years. Slim Harpo’s songs were recorded in Crowley, Louisiana by pioneering record man J. D. Miller, among others, and issued on Nashville’s Excello label. Down the years his songs have been covered by artists as diverse as the Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, the Grateful Dead and Hank Williams Jr. His sound and style is at the forefront of the music that became known as ‘swamp blues’ or ‘swamp pop.’
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