In the '50s, Slim did some of his best work for United, a Chicago-based indie whose catalog has since been acquired by Delmark (another Windy City label).
Slim's United period of 1952-1954 is the focus of The Come Back, a 20-track collection that Delmark assembled in 2002.
This is a blues CD that has both jazz and rock appeal.
Slim, like Jimmy Witherspoon and T-Bone Walker, was always a very jazz-influenced bluesman -- his love of jazz comes through on vocal gems like "Call Before You Go Home" and "5 O'Clock Blues" as well as free-spirited, improvisation-minded instrumentals that include a previously unreleased performance of Arnett Cobb's "Smooth Sailin'." The jazz influence gave Slim's band a certain amount of urban sophistication, but not at the expense of grit -- being sophisticated and gritty at same time was never a problem for Slim.
The House Rocker who does the most to give The Come Back some rock appeal is Matt "Guitar" Murphy, a tough, rugged electric guitarist who was never afraid to sweat.
These 1952-1954 recordings came just before the rock & roll revolution, and Murphy was the sort of bluesman who helped pave the way for that revolution -- you can be sure that many of the British Invasion rockers who emerged in the '60s were well aware of Murphy's high-volume guitar.
Collectors will be thrilled to learn that The Come Back contains 11 previously unreleased tracks, but even those who aren't hardcore collectors will find that this CD paints an exciting picture of Slim's two years at United.