Rant ‘N’ Roll: Magic Slim & The Who

If Live At Leeds by The Who is the greatest in-concert hard rock album of them all, then the show they recorded the very next night, on Feb. 15, 1970, Live At Hull, is a worthy companion piece. Twice as long, with disc number two a crash ‘n’ bash version of Tommy (which will now forever replace the studio version in my annual listen rotation), Hull contains some surprises. Although essentially the same set as Leeds (minus “Magic Bus”), Hull features a quick pop of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” (Cream style) in the middle of their celebrated cover of “Shakin’ All Over” (originally written and recorded by Brit favorites Johnny Kidd & The Pirates in 1960). Hull had heretofore only been heard as part of a deluxe Leeds package. Interestingly enough, the two shows were meant to be edited for one live album but the Hull sound was deemed inferior. That has been rectified for this release. According to the label, “a small selection of original tracks for the Hull show were missing bassist John Entwistle’s contribution due to a recording mix-up, but for this edition the parts have been added from the Leeds show.”

According to Pete Townshend’s Who I Am autobiography, “I had a few weeks free from engagements to mix and edit the two new live tapes, but it only took me two days. The first reel I put up, from Hull, had no bass guitar track. If I had listened to the subsequent reels I would have discovered that this was only an intermittent problem, that more and more of John’s playing had been safely recorded as the show went on. But it seemed such a tricky problem to fix that I moved quickly on to Leeds.” (Townshend goes on to say in the book he thought singer Roger Daltrey was better on Hull.)

“My Generation” rumbles on for 15 minutes, a crazed cacophony that’s even more intense than the Leeds version. (One is reminded on this track that Keith Moon might’ve been the greatest rock ‘n’ roll drummer ever.)


Bad Boy (Blind Pig) by Magic Slim & The Teardrops furthers the legend of one of the last of the great Chicago urban blues bands. Whether it’s Albert King’s “Matchbox Blues,” J.B. Lenoir’s “How Much More Long,” Muddy Waters’ “Champagne And Reefer,” Roy Brown’s “Hard Luck Blues” or any of his rampaging originals, Slim (who, at 75, ain’t too slim no more), sings in a feral Howlin’ Wolf way and jams on guitar like Buddy Guy. Slim was originally a piano player until he lost the little finger on his right hand in a cotton gin accident (the opposite of Dr. John who switched to piano from guitar when a bullet almost severed his left ring finger). Slim would pick cotton by day and gig at night, his muse and teacher being Magic Sam (1937-1969) from whom he took his name. In 1955, Slim ventured to Chicago to seek fame and fortune but returned to Mississippi discouraged. Five years of practice later, he made his second pilgrimage to the city of the blues and this time established himself as a major player. In the ‘70s, he took over for Hound Dog Taylor (1915-1975) at a Southside club called Florence’s, where he finally grew to fame. In the ‘90s, Eddie Vedder watched him strut his considerable on stage stuff and invited him to open for Pearl Jam. Since then he’s been globetrotting at festivals and juke joints alike, baring his soul for whoever will listen. Lately, he’s been co-headlining with Johnny Winter. Those with a blues jones cannot afford to miss this “Last Of The Red Hot Papas.”