Besides being a human blues jukebox, Chicago’s Magic Slim has made himself into a guitar-playing cottage industry when it comes to releasing music. Certainly no other blues artist in the last four decades has recorded more than Magic Slim (ten previous CDs on Blind Pig alone). Most discs follow a patented formula: two or three clever originals surrounded by mostly well-chosen covers. “Bad Boy” doesn’t stray from that formula. The title track is a recycle of Eddie Taylor’s 1955 classic, which on the bandstand is referred to as “a 12-bar Jimmy Reed shuffle.” “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In,” written by the sassy Denise LaSalle, is definitely a worthy inclusion here. Along with Z.Z. Hill’s “Down Home Blues,” it ranks among the most influential blues compositions of the 1980s and contains one of the ultimate put-down lines of all time. (“I got a smile on my face, and you didn’t put it there!”) Slim’s treatment of “I Got Money,” though, sounds rushed and misses the lazy and humorous attraction of Detroit Junior’s original.
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Our own Roy Brown’s “Hard Luck Blues” is handled by Slim with raw Chicago abandon, and it translates well. Of the originals, “Sunrise Blues” is a loping mid-tempo blues number, while “Girl What You Want Me to Do” is a chugging shuffle, a tempo that Slim mastered and has relied on for years. Bad Boy is good, but if you own three or four of Slim’s previous releases (I have an even dozen), this release might be redundant. However, if you’re looking for an introduction to raw, modern Chicago blues, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start.