Slim Harpo – Opher’s World pays tribute to a genius.
Straight out of the Louisiana swamps on to my turntable via Jimmy Miller’s production at Excello. That was the feel of Slim Harpo. He produced that electric, mesmerising Jimmy Reed beat to create a bayou drenched blues with a laid back vocal. I discovered him on an album called authentic swamp blues. Along with stable mates Lonesome Sundown, Lazy Lester and Lightnin’ Slim they churned the muddy green waters of Louisiana blues to create a primordial soup of sound which was compulsive. The guitars rumbled and reverberated and vocals whined. It was electric music from the rural backwaters. It was redolent of those sweaty humid southern nights in crude wooden shacks beside the murky green swamps with the croaking frogs where the dudes strutted and preened like peacocks and the mamas grinded and bumped to that insistent beat.
Slim Harpo grooved and growled through numbers like ‘Got love if you want it’, ‘I’m a King Bee’ and ‘Shake your hips’. He was the best of the bunch and inspired the Stones, Kinks and Yardbirds. Unfortunately he never got to perform in England but I did get to see Lazy Lester and have a limited talk about those early days. He was a bit surly, taciturn and reticent but then he was a lover and not a fighter.
I did get to see Slim’s grave while in Baton Rouge. He had a tomb with a slab over the top with the name James Moore inscribed on it. The tomb was heavily overgrown with great gnarled roots growing out of it. Slim was going back to the swamps he’d come from.
Slim Harpo should be revered the world over.