Alabama Slim got a late start. And as he stands on the cusp of his 82nd birthday in March, Slim proves his music was worth the wait with The Parlor.
So named for the studio in which it was recorded – and not for a radical social-media app – album No. 3 from the New Orleans bluesman makes the point with the funky, spoken-word, tongue-in-cheek, old-school-meets-contemporary “Forty Jive.”
“Started puttin’ kids in cages/grabbin’ pussy all day/just drink the Kool-Aid and look away,” Slim intones.
Like LPs of yore, The Parlor runs a scant 29 minutes. Also like yesteryear, Slim – joined by cousin and fellow guitarist Little Freddie King (who takes lead vocals on “Freddie’s Voodoo Boogie”) and drummer Ardie Dean – recorded straight to tape; keys and bass from Drive-By Truckers’ Matt Patton and Squirrel Nut Zippers’ Jimbo Mathus were added later.
The result is a lo-fi, high-energy trip through the history of the blues. Punctuated with studio banter and 1940s-vintage production, tracks like the 12-bar original “Rob Me without a Gun” and covers such as B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Down in the Bottom” make The Parlor both a portal to the past and a stepping stone to what will hopefully be a long future for Slim.