Originally released on the American label Nine Mile Records back in 2007, the One Man Riot LP from Swedish bluesman Slidin’ Slim has just received new, brilliant life on the respected and dependable Svensk label, Transubstans Records, letting fans who may have missed out on this brilliant slice ‘o blues-rock magic get a much needed second chance.
Heading by one Slidin’ Slim himself—a self styled bluesman with a passionate and original guitar style—the One Man Riot effort combines the style’s traditional feel with a unique and experimental focus on technology, sound pedals and effects.
“The reactions from both listeners and media were pretty much overwhelming right away,” admits Slim, “and now that the album has been re-released, I keep getting wonderful reviews and reactions from near and far.”
With good reason: One Man Riot is an incredible artistic statement, which turns the blues upside down in the best possible way…tossing to the wind any and all reservations about genre purists who might take offense.
Slim defends The Riot gracefully, explaining, “Of course, there will always be some really traditional blues fans who think that I’ve been taking it too far, and who would like me to stick to the traditional delta blues with which I began—and still play, and enjoy, on a regular basis—but I think most people, even straight blues fans, feel a need for something new and fresh in a music environment as conservative as the blues world.”
Returning to the subject of One Man Riot, he continues, “When I began to work on the material for One Man Riot, I had toured for over ten years on the Scandinavian blues circuit, and I had released one studio album and a live record under the name Slidin’ Slim. I felt kind of tired and a bit frustrated about being limited by the strict blues form
when writing songs. I wanted to do something different, but still blues. Of course, I had some worries about the risk of ‘biting the hand that fed me,’ but my creative urge to break some new ground was stronger than my fear to
go too far. When I met young producer Niels Nielsen, everything kind of fell in to place; with his amazing production talent, his lack of blues background whatsoever, and my deep roots in the delta blues we knew that we were on to
something very special.”
Perhaps taking on some common ground with such other left field genre artists like country music’s Hank III, our own Slidin’ Slim also freely admits to enjoying music even further outside the traditional blues spectrum…like extreme heavy metal.
“Well, I guess an important part of what I tried to do with One Man Riot was to be as honest as possible and create a true picture of Slidin’ Slim. That process included to show some of my musical roots beyond the blues.
“It was the wild rock ‘n’ roll of Jerry Lee Lewis that first made me interested in music as a small kid, and the music of The Ramones, The Clash and Dead Kennedys who made me wanna play in a band. In my first couple of bands I really wanted to play as hard music as possible and bands like Motörhead, early Metallica, Mercyful Fate, Hellhammer and Voivod had a great impact on me. I guess I’ve always been a fan of extreme music that feels for real and not as a product. I totally see a thread from somebody like Son House over Jerry Lee to Henry Rollins. These guys ain’t faking it and they’re willing to sweat and bleed to prove their point to you. I’m also taking my songwriting very seriously. Without great songs nothing will work.”
When confronted by yours truly with comparisons to singer/songwriter genius Tom Waits, Slim replies in the enthusiastic affirmative. “I’m definitely a fan of Tom Waits, especially the later stuff like Bone Machine and Mule Variations. Tom’s a genius for sure. I also go to guys like Steve Earle, Johnny Cash and other hardcore country stuff when I wanna get inspired. I like the honesty and simplicity that you find in the real country music. Three chords and the truth as somebody said. Lately I’ve been listening a lot to Jello Biafra’s Guantanamo School of Medicine. I just love that record and I think that Jello is just brilliant. What a great mind and energy. I’m in no way a stranger to electronic music and to use samples and loops in music which is one of the things that Niels Nielsen knows very well.”
At the heart of it all, however, there beats a boundless love from Slim for the Mississippi Delta, and the classic blues sound which emanated from the heartland.
“For me, I must say that Son House has been no.1 for me since I first heard his recordings from the 60’s. He was such a powerful performer with an amazing voice and played simple but extremely powerful slide guitar. There are plenty of more skilled guitar players among the delta and pre-war players, but I prefer Son any day. But, I do love and have been very influenced by icons like Big Joe Williams, John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson too. From my answers it is obvious that I’m 100% Mississippi Delta. It was the early delta blues that made me pick up the guitar in my early 20’s—I was only a singer who fooled around with different other instruments before that—and it took several years before I started to listen to electric blues. I was a pure delta blues freak and had very little interest in electric guitar players. Even when I started to loosen up after some years I kind of realized that it would be much wiser to stick to the delta slide style guitar playing with so many great electric players out there. That decision has served me well over the years.”
Given the blues are so rooted in Americana, does Slidin’ Slim hope that more fans out here will be open minded to a Swede trying his own take on this classic sound?
“I must say that the reactions to what I’m doing is equally good in Sweden and USA, but I can see a certain amount of ‘is this guy really from Sweden?’ in the reactions/reviews from the States. Of course this is a good thing for me. Then I’m still struggling with the fact that it is hard to reach an audience beyond the blues scene, no matter if it is in Europe
or USA. So far I’ve been doing good under the radar but I would love to get my music out there to more people. I’m convinced that a lot of rock fans could enjoy what I’m doing too.”