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The Best of Two: Slide of Hand / Slide Zone
(Chops Not Chaps Records)
Review Date: December 2008
by Mark E. Gallo
Roy Rogers has culled highlights from two of his albums – Slide of Hand (Liberty, 1993) and Slide Zone (Capital, 1994) creating an 18-cut masterwork. These were the two discs between his tenure at Blind Pig and his successful run on Pointblank. Both were superb, but overshadowed by the Pointblanks, especially. Rogers is one of the most impressive electric slide players ever, a fine singer, and a first-rate songsmith. The combination is delicious. There are too many highlights here to mention. The title cut to “Slide of Hand” is explosive, “Don’t Say A Word” is a delightful shuffle, and “Cure for a Breakin’ Heart” features the great Allen Toussaint’s piano on its gumbo-laced second line groove. Toussaint’s ivory coaxing can be heard on the instrumental ”Bull Hog Grind,” as well.
The acoustic “Make Your Paradise” benefits from Rogers’ pal Norton Buffalo’s atmospheric harp, which can heard to better effect on “Work Hard For the Money,” as well. Charlie Musselwhite sits in with his harp on “Livin’ On Borrowed Time,” and banjo master Bela Fleck is heard to superb effect on the acoustic “Ode To the Delta,” sharing gorgeous pickin’ with Rogers. He’s also in for “Off the Cuff,” a tune that builds in intensity and closes out the collection.
The working band of Steve Evans (bass), Mike Hyman (drums) and Phil Aaberg (piano) are first class throughout. Hyman, especially, propels the hard rockin’ “Spent Money” with powerful toms. Unquestionably, the show stealer is Rogers on each of these 18 stellar tunes. He is one of the 10 best slide players in the history of blues, and this is vital proof of the claim. Whew!
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