Liner Note Author: Dean Rudland.
Guitar Slim Green wasn't a prolific bluesman by any means. He recorded several sides in the '40s, '50s, and '60s, including a pair of singles for Johnny Otis' Dig, but perhaps his best-known recording is 1970's Stone Down Blues, his only full-length record. That's entirely due to who supports him on the album, produced by Johnny Otis, who also played drums on the record and brought in his son Shuggie to play bass and the occasional guitar, forming something of a power trio with Guitar Slim. Certainly, father and son help push Green away from his comfortable wheelhouse -- a wheelhouse that's firmly indebted to T-Bone Walker, whose influence can be heard on Guitar Slim's fluid single-line leads -- and into slightly funkier territory. The Otis rhythm section is loose and gritty, something that's readily apparent on the jumping opener "Shake 'Em Up" and that swing pops up elsewhere, including the John Lee Hooker homage "Old Folks Blues." One of the attractive things about Stone Down Blues is how the Otises continue to goose Green along in sly ways, urging him to sing Johnny's protest tune "This War Ain't Right" and mixing up shuffles ("Make Love All Night") with slow 12-bar blues ("My Little Angel Child"), piano blues ("You Make Me Feel So Good"), and urbanized country blues ("Big Fine Thing"). Green's gravelly voice and mellow presence help tie this all together and the whole album feels something like a casual triumph: Johnny Otis is paying his old friend a favor and, in doing so, finds an unwitting intersection between the old and modern blues at the turn of the '60s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine