Too Slim (Tim Langford) and The Taildraggers have been around snce 1986 and they have cut 18 albums in that time. This CD collects 31 songs from that body of work, plus three new songs. The first CD is fiercely blues rock, while the second side lightens up considerably with a less fierce, more blues and acoustic sound.
In fact, the first CD often walks a thin line between blues and punk. The subject matter deals with the darker side of life for the most part, starting with the opening swamp rock of “Wishing Well,” which deals with evangelicals who sell hellfire and damnation for profit. Slim and Nashville picker Bob Britt trade blistering solos here. “Little Gun Motel” takes to the sleazy side of Elvis Presley Boulevard in a rollicking boogie shuffle that celebrates the place to spend some time with some “‘street light girls.” The song has some sizzling slide guitar. These are two of the three new songs on the set.
We then return to the raunchy arena as we are treated to songs from the already recorded body of work. “Stoned Again” is a nasty groove that makes you think the CD might catch fire before the song is over. It is followed by another hard-rocking song about finding some sort of salvation in the Mississippi River, something many a blues man has attempted in the past. “Cowboy Boot” is another rocker with wry, biographical lyrics.
“Mexico” is another standout track on this side, with a funky Tex-Mex feel. “Been Through Hell” has a ’70s southern blues rock sound, while Slim’s gravelly vocal makes you believe he’s practiced what he’s preaching: “If you want to go to heaven, you got to make it through hell.”
So far on the first CD, the dominant themes of these and the other songs have mostly been about heaven and hell, lost love, whiskey, and the Devil. The last two songs start to pave the way for the (mostly) lighter themes of the second CD, with “I Wish I Was Fishing,” and my favorite song on this one, “She Sees Ghosts,” a light-hearted number about a dog who sees things the humans can’t see.
The second CD opens up with a totally different vibe. The first number “Everybody’s Got Something” features a guest vocalist, Curtis Salgado, and is a soulful, gospel-tinged number with an uplifting message. The other song that features a guest vocalist is “Good to See You Smile Again,” a slow blues number with an earnest vocal from Jimmy Hall of Wet Willie and a soaring guitar solo from Slim.
“Daddies Bones” is a gothic ballad in the southern blues storytelling tradition, and “La Llorona” is a sparse, emotional instrumental featuring some deeply impressive slide guitar from Slim.
The final new song in this collection is on this CD. “Big Ole House” is a yearning ballad of lost love, given a haunting resonance by Slim’s time-worn vocal.
These are just a sampling of the songs on the anthology, but they are representative of the remarkable variety and depth of the collection. Every listener will find songs on one or both of the CDs that will resonate with them in a true and lasting manner. Certainly the anthology is well worth adding to the collection of any blues or blues rock lover and will be a pleasure for both old and new fans.
This review was originally posted at Blogcritics.org at http://blogcritics.org/music-review-too-slim-and-the-taildraggers-anthology-2-cd-set/