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Too Slim & The Taildraggers
LABEL: UNDERWORLD RECORDS
If Tim “Too Slim” Langford only played slide he would slither around most other blues guitarists and put a ferocious bite on their pride. However, as the sole six-string slinger, main songster and lead singer of the power trio he founded in 1986 in Seattle, Washington, he is a total force of nature. Leaving musical tracks for others to try and follow with now 16 albums and countless gigs, he remains as untamed and menacing as ever.
New bassist Polly O’Keary and drummer Tommy Cook provide
bone-rattling punch as Langford makes his estimable presence known via
eyeball-melting slide stomps, melancholy ballads and butt-kicking
rockers on 12 far-reaching, original tunes. “Stoned Again” shows his
razor slide in open D, a tuning he owns along with
Blind Willie Johnson
and Elmore James as he makes a startling pitch for justice regarding
getting high with, “The devil drinks his whiskey and Jesus drinks his
wine.” The melancholy minor key blues of “Daddies Bones” is a bracing
change of pace with Joe Doria providing Hammond B-3 pads for Langford to
pick straight lead while he sings a brooding tale about a wayward father
that seems to reference the recent movie Winter’s Bone. The big arena
rock sound of “Can’t Dress It Up” would give Tom Petty a run for his
money as Langford uses his signature vocal growl to dramatic effect in
contrast to the rousing horn hits and anthemic chorus. “In Your Corner”
continues the fist-pump with a rocking Memphis boogie groove and vocal
hooks that stick to the ribs while Langford unleashes his slide.
Guest soul man Curtis Salgado brings his vox bono to preach understanding on “I Heard Voices,” a smooth slice of funk that Langford gooses with tart lead licks that leads into “Everybody’s Got Something,’” a heartfelt plea for unconditional love with, “Everybody’s got something to give.” Langford next delivers a pointed rant on the insouciant lazy funk of “Workin’” about the current economic plight of the working folk that evolves into an angry, runaway train of a rave-up in the coda before fading. “She Sees Ghosts” is another funky slice of R&B driven by catchy hooks and fills as Langford employs an inventive tale about a dog who “sees things that nobody sees” as a creative metaphor for his own fears.
“Inside of Me” extends his uneasiness musically with a minor key, medium rocker featuring Doria on keys while Langford wearily expresses his consuming passion for his woman with the restrained, resigned line of “I’m inside of her, she’s inside of me.” With a different take on love and a riff that acknowledges SRV, Langford rocks the shuffle on “As the Tears Go By,” snapping off prickly fills and a solo that is Texas as well as blues-approved. The title track visits grunge city and finds Langford stepping back with his guitar while his rip-picking son Austin Elwood acquits himself with the exuberance and angst of youth as the father emotes with chilling passion about his demons. Closing with a melodic and moving instrumental named for the Mexican town where he honeymooned, “Bucerius” also pays homage to the instrumental bands that came out of the Northwest in the early sixties.
Langford has used the evocative images of cattle and human skulls as talismans on his album art while his music laughs in the face of life’s challenges. In addition, it exudes the deepest blue feelings that flow through it like the muddy Mississippi. It is an experience often imitated and rarely replicated, but in great evidence throughout Shiver.
Dave Rubin, 2005 KBA winner in Journalism
Tim "Too Slim" Langford, with his band the Taildraggers, have created an eclectic style of blues and rock that has become a genre all its own. Too Slim‘s ever evolving musical direction cannot be classified into any box or category. The eclectic nature of the band allows Too Slim and the Taildraggers to easily crossover and appeal to audiences of various musical tastes.
Experiencing a Too Slim and the Taildraggers‘ concert is like taking
a journey through the history of American music. Too Slim’s style ranges
from down-home blues, funky blues rock, Americana, southern swamp rock,
and instrumental guitar styles. The band, led by singer, songwriter and
guitarist, Tim Langford, is backed by the top-shelf rhythm section of
Polly O’Keary on bass and vocals and Tommy Cook on drums and vocals.