Review: Too Slim And The Taildraggers – Anthology

Posted on: Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014

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Too Slim And The Taildraggers – Anthology

(Underworld Records: UND0024)

Is an anthology just and educated euphemism for a money making ‘Greatest Hits’, Best Of’, ‘Collection’ or ‘Retrospective’, Possibly, but you have to consider the following; the availability of most recorded music today that is not mainstream is akin to buying goods on the black market i.e. you have to be certain of what you want, and if  you are not a keen and regular concert goer and buy from the artist your choices are limited to pay the required price from limited outlets and when you want more of the same, where is the choice? You need and want to able to sample the goods so as to obtain that chance to enjoy a little bit of heaven again for a little while longer. So, in these circumstances the answer is definitely no!

T.S. and T.T. have been striking up the band for over twenty years now, from their humble beginnings, scratching a living in Spokane in Washington in 1986 to being firmly established in Nashville today although, that does not equate to selling out football stadiums and straddling the billboard charts it does mean the quality of your work is recognised and it is available to a wider and more appreciative audience. The flavour and essence of their music has become a distillation of the old southern states and the Wild West of days gone by; where an aspiring drifter dreams of a high minded life but is continually thwarted by life’s sleaze, corruption and hypocrisy that drags him back down into the dark dank swampy cesspools of life.

The beauty of it all is though that the music soars to heaven while telling tales of woe and despair but, you’re left floating on air. The key to this is that T. S. possesses a moody, rough and tumble, world wearily surly voice that seems to be the result of either a life of hard knocks or possibly, a strict diet of Southern Comfort and Capstan full strength, either way it is spectacularly effective when applied in conjunction with his attractive and abrasively seductive raw, searing slidework that is interweaved into his crisp and drawling fretwork, all this is underpinned by the very fine hypnotic and alluring mixture of Americana, Blues and Down-Home  backing of the ever evolving Taildraggers.

There are 34 numbers on offer in all; within these are three new collaborations with Tom Hambridge that confirm T.S.’s move into darker territory as with “Wishing Well”, a tale of the murky and deceitful world of less than honest preachers and prophets; a slow ringing guitar introduces T.S’s low vocals backed with a withering, searing guitar underpinned by an earthy, dirty, swampy organ, bass and percussion. “Little Gun Motel”, is a piano and guitar riddled rocker concerning the ‘goings on’ at a disreputable motel on Elvis Presley Boulevard. The third “Big Ole House”, is a slow burning piano stroked lament to a lost love, T.S.’s lovelorn and loss ridden vocals float over a burred and emotively burning roaming guitar.

Other charmers are; “Walk On Water”, a bruising boogie-laden building slow burner that is a definite crowd chanting pleaser concerning the effects of drink and the people who you might meet, those who help and those who won’t. “Cowboy”, is wonderful rocking and rolling tale of a happy go lucky, rambling and roaming cowboy who only owns what he stands up in. “Mexico”, is a grooving Tex-Mex ode to moving south, (cantina time here we come!).

On the quirky side there is “She Sees Ghosts”, which has a funky ‘Ghostbusters’ feel to it, it is a strange but, engaging tale of a dog that sees what we don’t see in the form of ghosts. T.S.’s social conscience is to the fore on the outstanding old time acoustic guitar and harmonica blues on “Shaking The Cup”, The emotion laden “Daddies’ Bones”, displays an affecting, tearful and sorrowfully understated guitar throughout as does “La Llorona”, with its deeply haunting Spanish tinged emotion outpouring Dobro.

“Throw Me A Rope”, is a lyrical guitar ballad of despair and a plea for help and hope in the tradition of Dire Straits. Along the same lines is “The Light”, which is a slowburning heartfelt call to the almighty that is given a greater depth faith by the guest vocals of Lauren Evans. The album serenely sails into the sunset with the fine and mellow instrumentals “Bucerius” and “Princeville Serenade”.

Well worth the shilling!

BRIAN HARMAN

www.tooslim.org

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