Monday, December 05, 2005

The Last #1 R&B Hit Blues Record

Slim Harpo:
Baby Scratch My Back b/w
I'm Gonna Miss You (Like the Devil)

Today's A-side selection has the honor of being the last blues recording to hit #1 on Billboard's R&B charts. Harpo himself referred to the 1966 recording as an "attempt to do rock 'n' roll" but what the song really did was lay down a nice swampy boogaloo beat on which Slim drawled his suggestive monologue and showed off some good harmonica work. Harpo would successfully revisit this approach on the great two-part "Tip on In" and the oh-so-funky "Te Ni Nee Ni Nu," both of which I will post in the future.

In addition to this song being the last #1 R&B blues hit, "Scratch My Back" was the first blues record I ever heard. I was equally enamored of the flip, the slower, reverb-laden "I'm Gonna Miss You (Like the Devil)." Peter Guralnick once wrote that Harpo's singing was similar to that of a black country singer or a white R&B singer trying to impersonate a member of the other genre, a very accurate assessment. "Miss You" is an out-and-out blues, with Harpo doing his thing vocally and on the harmonica and the heavy reverb making for some great turnarounds in the choruses.

No comments: