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Songwriter September

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Watch the 1966 Slim Boogie online guitar lesson by Jimmy Vivino from Jimmy's Blues House: Boogie Down

Mid Sixties Swamp Boogie: 1966 Slim Boogie

Mention swamp boogie from the bayous and the first name which comes to mind is Slim Harpo. Born James Isaac Moore (1924-70), his primary influence to play guitar was Jimmy Reed. But his first release, "I'm a King Bee" (1957), sounds nothing like the "King of the Cut-Boogie Shuffle." Though it gives a slight nod to the groundbreaking boogies of John Lee Hooker, its signature riff is closer to Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man" (1955) played over a hard-driving shuffle beat. Adding a touch of menace is a bass string gliss from the tonic F to the C (5th). His most successful song was "Scratch My Back" (1965) which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart a year later. Though more funky R&B than boogie blues, it does contain walking basslines relative to the I, IV,V changes which ascend and descend in a syncopated manner.

Harpo's most influential boogie recording, however, was "Shake Your Hips" (1966). A fiery boogie, dance-teaching song envisioned to follow in the commercial footsteps of "Scratch My Back", it under-performed at the time. Nonetheless,, it's irresistable, relentless, monochord cut-boogie rhythm has had a long "shelf life" as a cover tune, appearing on the Rolling Stones Exile on Main St. (1972). The Stones previously had covered "I'm a King Bee" on their 1964 debut album. Other British Invasion bands like the Yardbirds, Kinks and Them, as well as the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Joan Osbourne later on, have been attracted to Harpo's catchy rhythms and sometimes suggestive lyrics.

Otis Verries "Lightnin Slim" Hicks, Harpo's brother-in-law, though unfairly not as acknowledged, also deserves credit for taking Louisiana swamp blues to the people. "Rock Me, Mama" (1954) and "Lightnin' Slim Boogie" (1955) are two excellent examples of his powerful, cut-boogie rave ups.

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