Watermelon Slim and the Workers

Wheel Man | Northernblues
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  April 10, 2007
3.5 3.5 Stars
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The results of this year’s annual blues awards, the Handys, won’t be in until May, but expect this ex-Bostonian (né Bill Homans) to walk away with an armful. Watermelon Slim & the Workers was one of last year’s best albums in any genre — a raw, rocking, funny set guided by Slim’s Delta-possessed guitar and aged-basset-hound voice. The follow-up is equally rollicking, full of songs about sex, crime, and greed, many set at a steamroller pace and some brought right back to the Mississippi dust that appears to be Slim’s ground zero via his transfixing solo performances. “Wheel Man” is an imp’s workshop for his time-torn voice and rawboned playing. Although Slim’s Workers are a crack outfit, they get a boost from Chicago heavyweight Magic Slim, who turns in a terse solo and sings with Homans on the title cut. Boston-based blues piano veteran David Maxwell provides three other tunes with extra crackle. Although Homans gives his lusty sense of humor and crusty slide guitar full rein, the two most mesmerizing performances are the a cappella sinner’s story “Jimmy Bell” and “Judge Harsh Blues,” a jail tale that’s just Watermelon Slim and his guitar.
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