Slim Harpos 10 Best Blues Albums
Slim Harpo was born James Moore on the 11th January 1924 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His early life was taken up with many manual jobs before he started performing in bars around Baton Rouge as Harmonica Slim, a tip of the hat to his brother-in-law Lightnin' Slim. He went on to have a reasonably productive recording career after changing his name to Slim Harpo and was one of the Blues legends much admired and covered by the 60s English bands the Rolling Stones, The Pretty Things and The Yardbirds.
He died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack at the relatively young age of 46 on 31st January 1970.
For more information on Slim Harpo and other great blues artists why not visit Sensible Vulture which is a great Blues related website.
1. The Best of Slim Harpo
This album gives a good cross section of the work of this talented artist and gives versions of the songs that were much covered by many 60's English Bands. Here you get "I'm a King Bee" covered by The Rolling Stones, "I Got Love If You Want It" covered by The Kinks and "Don't Start Crying Now" covered by Van Morrison, and Them. Plus there are others of his great tracks such as "Tip on In" and "Baby, Scratch My Back".
This is a great place to see what the fuss was all about.
The Best of Slim Harpo available on Amazon
2. The Excello Singles Anthology
This double CD covers the later period of his career up until his death in 1970 and all told gives you 44 tracks including many well-known as well as some more obscure tracks. Considered in his day as pornographic you start to see why he was so highly thought of. Standout tracks are "Baby, Scratch My Back" for which he took a lot of flak and "Shake Your Hips" which the Rolling Stones covered on "Exile on Main Street".
The Excello Singles Anthology available on Amazon
3. Best of Slim Harpo
This is a UK compilation with a slightly different track listing including a couple of extras over and above the Excello Best Of, in all there are 6 different tracks which is enough to make this worthwhile. All the best know tracks are here as you would expect but you get in addition a couple of Harpo's attempts to capitalise on his success of "I'm a King Bee" with "My Little Queen Bee (Got a Brand New King)" and "Buzz Me Babe" which the Excello version misses. These are interesting in order to get a good idea of how he evolved.
The Best of Slim Harpo available on Amazon
4. Tip On In
This CD covers the same period as the more concise Excello Anthology (see 2 above) but only includes 25 tracks. So if the 44 tracks of the Anthology is too much for you then this may be the one. It includes most of what you'd expect such as his hits "Tip On In", "Tee-Ni-Nee-Ni-Nu", "I'm Gonna Keep What I've Got" but also interestingly a cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues".
Tip On In available on Amazon
5. Sting It Then!
This is an interesting Live show from 1961 in Alabama which shows Slim Harpo towards the start of his career when he is still very reliant on his King Bee fame and in fact plays it twice. He also covers a few standards such as "Boogie Chillun" and "When The Saints Go Marchin´ In" but also of course includes plenty of his own hits.
The production is also pretty good for a live show from this era.
Sting It Then! available on Amazon
6. Rainin' in My Heart
This compilation again includes most of Harpo's hits but concentrates more on the melodic and easy listening side of his canon such as the eponymous "Rainin' in My Heart".
Rainin' in My Heart available on Amazon
7. I'm a King Bee: The Early Swamp Blues Classics
This CD concentrates on the early part of Slim Harpo's career and as the title suggest includes his Early Swamp Blues Classics, including of course "I'm a King Bee".
This shows Harpo recording and playing before he had been "discovered" by The Rolling Stones et al and playing more down-home blues.
I'm a King Bee: The Early Swamp Blues Classics available on Amazon
8. The Scratch: Rare & Unissued
This CD is not a greatest hits album nor a regular album but as the title suggests a compilation of rarer recordings. However it is none the worse for that, whilst the recordings are not as clean and polished as other tracks they are interesting from an historical point of view.
9. Complete Excello Recordings Box Set
This is the motherlode. There are 4, count them 4, CD's and 86, yes 86, tracks. The music here covers Harpo's entire career from March 1957 to December 1969. There are 23 songs from the King Bee era, 23 songs from the Buzzin Harpo era, 21 songs from Harpo the Scratcher and finally 19 songs from Harpo the Dynamite.
Complete Excello Recordings Box Set available on Amazon
10. Slim Harpo Knew the Blues
This album was originally released just after Harpo's death in 1970 and is a pretty good comprehensive retrospective of Slim Harpo's career. All the major tracks are here but very little else but it is a rare and intriguing album if you can get hold of it. It was originally issued with 10 tracks but the re-release in 1980 contained 12.