Memphis Slim Rocks

Bear Family Records’ long-running Rocks series receives another entry, and this time the focus is on Memphis Slim. As with other entries in the series, the label has chosen a selection of this Blues artists’ most rocking tracks. Featuring 29 tracks recorded between 1942 and 1961 for labels including Bluebird, Miracle, VeeJay, Strand, King, Premium, United, and Chess; Is this compilation worth picking up?

The first track, 1952’s Rocking The Pad, a boogie-woogie rock ‘n’ roll number with a stylish solo, immediately caught my attention; A perfect to open the album. As the album continues, it features earlier Blues recordings which showcase the artist’s piano playing. These recordings aren’t too polished, but the skill and feeling shines on through.

The song No Mail Blues is something of a highlight here; Its fast-paced piano and light drums are addictive; The vocal features a duet in the chorus, which really sells the hook; the two voices combine to create an almost double-tracked effect.

Another highlight is Pacemaker Boogie, a piano instrumental which is exactly what it says on the tin; A boogie masterclass assisted by a small horn section. In fact, all of the instrumental numbers featured here are an utter delight. As a fan of Blues and Boogie-woogie piano, this hits the spot.

As someone who hadn’t heard his music, I have to say I was surprised. As someone who regularly seeks out Rock ‘n’ Roll, he doesn’t seem to come up too often. It is plain to see how influential his playing and vocal delivery are. A few of Slim’s little piano licks are recognisable, and have been used on countless records afterwards.

Sound Quality:

These recordings vary in quality but are excellent in the main. The 40s recordings have a slight hiss in places, as can be expected for their age, but these would be practically inaudible in some situations. Some tracks, including Harlem Bound, have a chaotic production style, but I believe this is only to enhance the experience. It is obvious that despite some of the recordings originating from less-than-ideal sources, Bear Family have done an excellent job in restoration.

A Little Something Extra…

Inside a nicely printed digipak is a 36-page booklet featuring extensive liner notes written by British blues and R’n’R expert Martin Hawkins. Alongside this is a discography featuring recording information and musical analysis of the song; This format differs from previous editions, but certainly adds more value.


Bear Family Records have compiled an album which features the rockin’ recordings of Memphis Slim, and then some. As a complete novice to his music, this acted as a good introduction for me to check out more of his music. The recordings on here occasionally show their age, but Memphis Slim’s performance shines through. If you like well-played piano Blues that treads into rhythm and blues, rock and roll and boogie-woogie, this is the album for you. Memphis Slim Rocks is available from Bear Family Records.


  1. Rocking The Pad
  2. Harlem Bound
  3. Old Taylor
  4. Rockin’ The House
  5. Kilroy Has Been Here
  6. No Mail Blues
  7. Memphis Slim U.S.A
  8. Beer Drinking Woman
  9. Pacemaker Boogie
  10. Wish Me Well
  11. Big Bertha
  12. Nobody Loves Me
  13. Back Alley
  14. If You Live That Life
  15. Midnight Jump
  16. Trouble, Trouble
  17. Slim’s Boogie
  18. The Girl I Love
  19. What’s The Matter
  20. Lonesome (Blue Blues)
  21. Tia Juana
  22. She’s Alright
  23. Walkin’ The Boogie
  24. Gotta Find My Baby
  25. Sassy Mae
  26. Love My Baby
  27. I’m Lost Without You
  28. Let The Good Times Roll Creole
  29. Rockin’ The House

Memphis Slim Rocks




Jamie Dyer

Jamie Dyer is an experienced writer, broadcaster, musician and social media marketer. He enjoys Old Time Radio, vintage TV, collecting vinyl and supporting the New York Knicks.

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