Reviews

Reflections in Blue Review
Too Slim & The Taildraggers
Anthology
Underworld Records UND0024


Tim "Too Slim" Langford<http://www.tooslim.org/> & the Taildraggers came out of Spokane, Washington like a man with the hellhounds nipping at his heels in 1986.  Twenty-eight years and 18 albums later the band is still not only going strong but are hot on the heels of their newest release, a two-disc anthology containing 34 tunes, including three new tunes produced by Tom Hambridge.  All tunes with the exception of three were written by Langford and of those three, two were co-written by Langford & Hambridge and one was co-written by Hambridge and Jim Suhler.  Tim Langford is a spectacular guitarist, songwriter and vocalist whose music has a timeless quality that will hold up over time, selling equally well twenty years down the road as it does on its release date.  Backing him on this project are Tom Hambridge on drums and background vocals, Bob Britt on guitar, Tommy McDonald on bass, Jon Coleman on piano and organs.  Then, there are the special guests, Curtis Salgado on vocals (track 1 on disc 2), Jimmy Hall on vocals (track 7 on disc 2) and Lauren Evans on vocals (track 14 on disc 2).  Langford loses no time getting to the point.  The first disc opens with a hypnotic swamp-rocker titled "Wishing Well" and does not slow matters down until the double disc extravaganza finishes with the hauntingly beautiful instrumental, "Princeville Serenade."  This band crosses musical lines like they don't exist and, the way this cat plays, they don't exist.  From hard-driving blues tunes that can propel you down the road like that last cup of coffee was jet fuel to slow and melodic tunes that can lull the baby to sleep with ease they ease their way through the spectrum like it was a walk in the park.  The tunes on this compilation span the past fifteen years.  The variety of styles represented appeals to a wide variety of listeners with widely varied musical preferences and they glide through the changes with ease, taking the listening audience on a virtual rollercoaster ride.  While it is a greatest hits collection, this compilation is so well put together that the listener is taken on a seamless ride that manages to hold their attention from start to finish with no bumps in the road so to speak.  This is a great piece of work and one of a very few greatest hits compilations I would recommend so highly.  There's not a weak spot on the entire disc and that is rare for a normal single disc, let alone a double disc with better than thirty tunes represented.  This one is a winner. - Bill Wilson
 

Website - http://www.tooslim.org/
FaceBook - https://www.facebook.com/TooSlimandtheTaildraggers
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Too+Slim+%26+The+Taildraggers

 I Tunes - https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/anthology/id884314688

 
 

Anthology Album Cover

Review of "Anthology" by New York Writer Dave Rubin. Available now at The Too Slim and the Taildragger website.

Tim “Too Slim” Langford with his Taildraggers roared out of Spokane, Washington in 1986 like a man with his hair on fire. The v
irtuoso guitarist, passionate singer and poetic songwriter remains possessed to play the blues his way with blockbusting power and the talent to create timeless music like his life depended on it. 28 years, countless emotionally draining shows and 18 albums later find him with an ongoing recorded legacy. Showcased on his monumental 2-disc release are 34 select songs, including three new tracks produced by noted Grammy winner Tom Hambridge.

The sumptuous extravaganza opens with the hypnotic swamp-rocker “Wishing Well” co-written by Langford and Hambridge. A cautionary fable about false prophets has Langford intoning “Money counted, the tent comes down, desperation waits in another town. A common form of deception and lies, the devil hides in a preacher’s disguise” followed by the warning “Throw your money in the wishing well, that’s what he tells you, that’s what he sells. Pray for heaven, but go to hell…” as he and ace Nashville picker Bob Britt trade scorching solos. “Little Gun Motel” by Hambridge and Texas bluesman Jim Suhler rocks a riotous, heavy boogie shuffle as Tim “Too Slim” Langford proves he is a reigning slide wizard by frying his strings while revealing with a wink “If you ever stop in Memphis, Tennessee, there’s a place to lay your head where you don’t get no sleep. Street light girls, working hard, down Elvis Presley Boulevard. You can kiss them all night and they won’t tell, checking into the ‘Little Gun Motel’.” The third new cut, “Big Ole House”, by Langford and Hambridge, is a haunting ballad of lost love with Langford exposing palpable regret with his blues-worn vocal “Big ole house needs your big ole heart, when you gonna track an empty vow. Just a bunch of walls and empty halls, I need your loving in this big ole house” as the sensitive fills of pianist Jon Coleman and the entire rhythm section intertwine in a stunning innovation to the Taildragger sound.

Every archival track is as vital as the day it was recorded. “Stoned Again” has Langford sliding and slithering at his nastiest on a “smoking” shuffle groove verging on combustion. “Wash My Hands” rides a memorable hard rocking riff about finding salvation via “I wash my hands in the muddy Mississippi.” Langford “raps” his rawboned bio on “Cowboy Boot”, a clanging, big bore rocker with the wry hook “I got no more money in my cowboy boot.”

The Norteno-flavored funky “Mexico” is a jovial tribute to the virtues of visiting our southern neighbor for relaxation. Chunky funk-rock on “Been Through Hell” finds Langford preaching the sage advice “To get a little heaven you gotta make it through hell.” The cathartic slow blues “Good to See You Smile Again” boasts a soaring solo from Langford to complement Jimmy Hall’s heartfelt vocals. “Everybody’s Got Something” with guest soul singer Curtis Salgado is an uplifting rock “spiritual” featuring a worthwhile message couched in an infectious groove. Reminiscent of Blind Willie Johnson’s classic “Dark is the Night, Cold is the Ground”, “La Llorona” is an unaccompanied slide instrumental carrying immense, unforgettable emotional weight.

Tim Langford has that rare ability to make believable every note he sings and plays, along with the veracity of each tale, tall or otherwise. Now a resident of Nashville, he is currently being honored along with six other artists in the Country Music Hall of Fame and in a prominent exhibit at the airport. His exposure in “Opryland” can only further the cause of spreading his musical “gospel” to a wider audience.

Dave Rubin, KBA recipient in Journalism

 

Blue Heart (Underworld Records, June 2013)

Blue Heart


"The first four bars of opening track “Wash My Hands,” announce the return of Too Slim and the Taildraggers with a muscular one, two, three punch of gritty guitar, snapping snare drum and thundering bass. Recorded in his new home of Nashville, Blue Heart is the follow-up to Shiver; the 2012 Blues Music Association nominated Blues Rock Album of the Year and his much lauded solo album Broken Halo. The eleven song collection produced by Tom Hambridge feature his skills on both sides of the glass, as he does great work in the drum chair and at the mixing desk, showing us exactly why he is in high demand. The other guest musicians include Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughn) on B3, Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie) vocals and harmonica, Rob McNelley (guitar), and Tommy MacDonald (bass). The nine new compositions from Langford show off his formidable songwriting skills alongside his already well known guitar work on this his twelfth studio album.
 
Standouts among the southern fried roots and blues are the swampy shuffle of the title track, the rock redemption of “When Whiskey Was My Friend,” and the fore mentioned “Wash My Hands,” with its infectious riff. Langford hands over the vocals reigns to Jimmy Hall who shines on the soul ballad “Good To See You Smile Again,” trading sweet guitar leads with him while Reese Wynans lays down the classic Hammond organ that he is famous for. A Too Slim record wouldn’t be complete without a slide guitar feature and so for this one he chose “Preacher,” from fellow bottleneck man Ross Simmons, adding a hundred watts of power to this tale of fire and brimstone. After all the rocking out Langford ends the album with the acoustic based, world music infused “Angels Are Back,” hinting that he may have even more up his sleeve; only time will tell."
- Rick J. Bowen, No Depression

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"Following on from last year's much acclaimed Shiver, Tim "Too Slim" Langford, master songwriter, guitarist, slide player, and singer is back. Look out, he is back big time with an album bursting at the seams with a who's who of the best Nashville has to offer. This album was produced by Tom Hambridge who has just collaborated with RB Stone on his latest offering Loosen Up!. Tim has drawn on the experience of Tom Hambridge (RB Stone, Buddy Guy, George Thorogood and Joe Louis Walker), and current and former members of Delbert McClinton's band for good measure.
 
With so much talent added to The Taildraggers one could be excused for thinking that this would be a hindrance, but wow it not only works but in fact becomes epic with the outstanding phrasing and interpretations of Langford's songs. By now, you are asking just who makes up Tim's amazing band The Taildraggers, very remiss not to put a spotlight on Bassist Scott Esbeck (Stone River Boys, Los Straightjackets), Percussionist Jeff "Shakey" Fowlkes (Robert Bradley's Black Water Surprise, Kid Rock and Uncle Kraker) are now the newest members of the trio. The Taildraggers.
 
Nashville is written all over this Blues/Rock album but that is a great thing because the marriage of "Too Slim" to the sound is perfect. Not only does this album drive it along, Tim shines on the Bluesy ballads "Good To See You Smile Again" (stunning, stunning, stunning with a lovely touch of keys to add to the moodiness), "New Years Blues", "Preacher" (richly enhanced by Tim's slide), and "Angels Are Back." This is a faultless album that has absolutely no filler tracks and as such we can play any track whatsoever knowing our listeners will dig it. "Too Slim" Langford always delivers the goods. Radio Blues fans demand the best so we play the Too Slim and The Taildraggers."
- Peter Merrett, PBS 106.7, Melbourne, Australia

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"(Tim Langford) might be a hard charging, guitar slinging, blues rocker, but he paid attention to the lyrical skills of the greats and learned his lessons well. With sharper lyrics that you would normally expect from a boogie band, everything about this cat cuts to the chase and cuts to the quick. You can bet guitar slinging fans will come for the licks but stay for the words. A killer high water mark (Blue Heart) in a career that normally feels like a mighty river."
- Chris Spector, Midwest Record

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""Blue Heart" is the title track off of Too Slim and the Taildragger’s new record. Jimmy Hall’s voice and harp blowing is smooth and smoky in the same breathe. The blues is not a style of music, it’s an emotion, and these guys have that sentiment in their back pocket.

The equation in this track is all right, the tremolo guitar, overdriven vocal, and that organ sound through a Leslie-drive rhythm guitar...hell yes, that Leslie sound! I dare you to listen to this and not at the very least snap your fingers along, never mind break into a full blown blues seizure. This is the kind of thing I think of when I think Chicago blues joint. It has a nice amount of grit and dirt on the track, but still maintains that velvety smooth blues feel.
 
Let’s all nod our heads, sip our 2 fingers of bourbon in the smoky bar of life and tip our hats to this band. Good to see the blues is still alive and well."
- Red Line Roots Music Blog

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"Well you’ve been waiting for something new from Too Slim and the Taildraggers, and here it is!  Blue Heart will rock your head off!  After 11 studio and five live albums, Too Slim still delivers scorching, heart-felt blues and rock, for our more than appreciative ears.  Fresh, new, and hardcore!
 
Too Slim is really Tim Langford.  Originally from Spokane, Washington, but living in Nashville now.  With Jimmy Hall playing fabulous harp, Tom Hambridge on drums, and vocals, Rob McNelly on guitar, Tommy McDonald on bass, and Reese Wynans on keyboards; he has a cooking hot, burn your fingers and toes blues band.      
 
Opening up with "Wash My Hands" in the muddy Mississippi to the last cut "Angels Are Back," Too Slim and the Taildraggers deliver a feast for our ears.  With 11 cuts, you will not be disappointed with any of them.  The more I listen to it the better I like it.  I love the tempo of the band.  Nobody gets in the way, and Slim must need a new fret job in his guitar after every gig.  I mean he must have to apply Freon to cool that thing off.  Playing great stuff since 1986, this is an EXCELLENT CD!
 
Before leaving the Great Northwest, Too Slim garnered several Best Band, Best Guitarist, Best Album, and Readers Poll Awards from the Northwest Media. He’s in Nashville now, and I think he’ll win a few more.  Don’t let the summer go by without checking out this one. I’m glad this stuff is still around, and coming out of the Earth to feed us."
- Blue Barry, Smoky Mountain Blues Society

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"B.B. King said “the blues is a feeling” and Tim “Too Slim” Langford has plumbed the deepest blue depths since 1986. Originally from Spokane, Washington, far from the cotton fields, he built a loyal international following on the strength of 11 studio, four live albums, and two solo albums.

Recently relocated to Nashville, the slashing slide and lead guitarist, ferocious singer and streetwise composer of exceptionally hard hitting lyrics, has out done even his most illustrious previous releases with the scorching Blue Heart.

Nine originals and two covers feature noted producer Tom Hambridge (drums, background vocals), Rob McNelley (guitar), Tommy MacDonald (bass), Reese Wynans (Hammond B-3 organ) and Jimmy Hall (lead vocal, harmonica). “Wash My Hands” roars with a pile-driving riff and keening slide.

Tim Langford combines his total command of the medium with unwavering dedication to his art. Blues this uninhibited, expressive and uplifting are a gift to be treasured and enjoyed for the sheer cathartic exuberance always on tap from a true modern master."
Dave Rubin, 2005 KBA Winner in Journalism

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"This is the release I have been waiting for. Just got it yesterday and have been blasting through the new home in South Carolina for every box, chair, guitar, and pot or pan. This is the music of life! Wonderful!"
- Chef Jimi Patricola, Blues 411
 

Prior Reviews

"If it is possible to be a natural-born guitarist, Langford fits the description."
Rick Allen, Vintage Guitar Magazine

 

"Tim "Too Slim" Langford not only seems reinvigorated, but in 2011 has released one of the finest albums in his extensive catalog."
Hal Horowitz, All Music Guide

 

"Too Slim (Tim Langford) is not only a master of slide guitar, But he's also a composer of the highest regard. He's penned 12 winners for his latest effort...A supremely talented performer and composer who ranks with the best that blues/rock has to offer."
Graham Clarke, Blues Bytes

 

"One of the finest original Blues Rock trios performing today...A landmark effort (Shiver)."
Brian Owens, Blues Review Magazine

 

"Having personally observed Too Slim's career progress over the last 16 years and 13 albums, I feel qualified to pronounce Shiver a Tim Langford masterpiece!"
James Walker, Blues Blast Magazine

 

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Rock and Reprise Review: Broken Halo

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

I don't know what I was expecting, but this ain't it. Actually, I do know what I was expecting. I was expecting an acoustic version of Too Slim & The Tail Draggers and boy am I glad I was disappointed. Guitarist Tim Langford, it appears, is more than just a one trick pony. Broken Halo is proof.

Not that I don't like blues. I love blues when I'm in the mood and I am in the mood more than not, but what I am always in the mood for is taste and Langford serves it up in huge portions here. The opening one-two punch of the Americana-ish La Llorona and Three Chordsmay have caught me by surprise, but those are the kinds of surprises I can live with. The guitar is clean and melodic and the tunes are impressive. Langford returns to his blues on Shaking a Cup, delving into a little light acoustic blues with, shall we say, a Tony Joe White bent. He goes whole hog blues next. You Hide It Well is Southern Blues personified right down to the slight Southern accent and acoustic slide guitar. Princeville Serenade is once again Americana sans blues, a light acoustic instrumental tiptoe through the tulips, followed by my present favorite track on the album, 40 Watt Bulb, areal Tony Joe White-style choogler (Don't ask me. I'm just hearing Tony Joe White today, I guess). Title track Broken Halo is an upbeat rock 'n' roller with a Mark Knopfler twist, the bass and drums bedrock for Langford's more-Southern-than-not voice and guitar. He swims in the deep end of the blues pool on North Dakota Girl, the R&B more 'B' than 'R', and returns to a Knopfler-style Southern rocker with Dollar Girl. More blues and slide acoustic with Long Tail Black Cat before capping the album off with the semi-talking Gracie, an excellent wrap-up.

Do I miss the Taildraggers? Not one whit. Don't get me wrong. I like the Taildraggers, but not as a steady diet. Like I said previously, I have to be in the mood. This is a nice offset for Langford or any other blues player who has visions beyond the blues. Stick with it and you are soon pigeonholed. Hear the new Langford? Nah, tired of the blues. Another potential fan thinks blues, regardless. Now, when you mix things up, especially a guy as talented as Langford, you avoid that. Here's the re-take. Hear the new Langford? No, any good? See? All it takes is a little variety to make the world your oyster.

This oyster, by the way, was recorded at Conrad Uno's Egg Studios in Seattle. I'm not sure if I ever met the guy, but many of my friends have and speak very highly of him and his work. Broken Halo, to me, reinforces that respect. The sound is super clean and the engineering masterful, which it really needs to be to make this music sound this good.

Broken Halo is a solid second effort for Langford. Next up, I'd like to see him really take some chances. Say, some three-man crunch a la Cream or maybe some psych a la Quicksilver. I mean, he has the blues down. Time to expand horizons, eh, Tim? I mean, you've done pretty well thus far. I'm just sayin'.....

 

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Tim “Too Slim” Langford - Broken Halo

David Hintz, Underworld Records; 2012

Tim Langford does the blues, but adds a lot of folk touches and changes arrangements around to keep things interesting at all times. The great touch displayed on slide guitar is showcased in the opening instrumental track. He then proceeds to show off his classic bluesy voice in many of the other songs. “Princeville Serenade” shows off more folk moves and is a great interlude among the bluesier songs. This is the second album I have heard from him and both were a pleasure to take in. The instrumental prowess of Langford and his band is what works for this record. It succeeds more for their touch and interpretation than their prowess, although the skills are there, too. This is worth a listen and will find a healthy sized audience. I am still there. 

 

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BluesWax - Sittin’ In With Tim “Too Slim” Langford

Charley Burch, The Blues Revue

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 The Taildraggers, which 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. He and his band 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.

Too Slim’s last four studio releases have all charted in the top ten onBillboard Top Blues Album charts and Heat Seeker charts. Shiver was nominated by The Blues Foundation for Rock Blues Album of the Year in 2012. Too Slim and the Taildraggers have sold over 100,000 albums to date. Tim “Too Slim” Langford has received Lifetime Achievement and Hall of Fame awards by three blues societies in the northwest United States and Too Slim is the recipient of over 40 regional and national music awards.

Too Slim’s latest project, Broken Halo, is a multi-tracked solo project that should be on your list of albums to acquire.

The following is my interview with Too Slim, which transpired over the past month between touring in the United States and Europe.

Charley Burch for BluesWax:  Is Broken Halo your first solo project release?

TS: Broken Halo is not my first solo release. Pint Store Blues was my first, in 1999. I also released a live CD called Goin’ Public in 2001, which was from a public radio show I did. I finally got around to doing a new solo project, which is Broken Halo, this year.

Nancy, who is my manager and wife, basically told me I had to do it. I was procrastinating for years about doing a solo album. The difference betweenPint Store Blues and Broken Halo is that Pint Store Blues was more of a tribute album to my influences. It was all covers; Broken Halo‘s songs are all original material.

BW: Are you using new musicians? How do you intend to tour these songs?

TS: I played all the instruments on Broken Halo. I had the songs in my head and heard them a certain way, so I guess it was easier to just lay them down that way. I wanted to keep the songs pretty simple. I’d love to do a tour playing these songs, but Too Slim and the Taildraggers have been pretty busy this year playing gigs.

BW: Where and how did you record? Did you record analog, digital, or synchronized?

TS: I recorded in Seattle at Egg Studios with a great fellow named Conrad Uno, at the same studio we did our last album, Shiver, which got a BMA nomination for “Rock Blues Album” of the year. Conrad was the founder of Popllama Records, which was a big part of the Seattle grunge scene. He is a wonderful guy to work with and has big ears. We just set up a couple of microphones and I would just play the songs through till I got a good take with the guitar and vocal. Then I would overdub what else I thought the song needed. We recorded Broken Halo all digital. Shiver was recorded on tape and dumped onto digital for mixing.

BW: What label and distributor are you releasing through?

TS: The album is on Underworld Records, which Nancy and I own, and is distributed through

Burnside Distribution Corporation worldwide.

BW: How long did this project take to write, track, mix, and start publicity campaign?

TS: The album actually came together very quickly. I had some tunes half written and once Nancy told me I was going to do it, I actually just sat down and got to it. I worked on the songs about a month and went in the studio and recorded it in five days and mixed for two. Then I got it mastered at Black Belt Mastering in Seattle. Most of the songs I got in one or two takes, then I did overdubs on some. The vocals and rhythm guitar are all live takes, except I harmonized with myself on the title cut. Nancy did the original artwork for the album cover and the graphic. Then we hired Betsie Brown with Blind Raccoon for the publicity. The CD released on June 20, 2012.

BW: What was your main inspiration for this project? What songs influenced the creation of Broken Halo?

TS: Nancy is the one that got me going on this project, she insisted that I do it and set up studio time, otherwise I would have waited till who knows when. I had been listening to a lot of John HiattSteve EarleBob Dylan, and oldNeil Young, along with the Muddy WatersSon House, and Lightnin Hopkins. I guess the album is a reflection of that combination of influences.

The two instrumental songs, “La Llorona” and “Princeville Serenade,” just came to me pretty much as you hear them on the album. With “La Llorona,” the first track on the CD, I just grabbed the Dobro off the wall and tuned it to E minor and it just came out just like that. The same with “Princeville Serenade,” I bought a ukelele in Hawaii and that’s the first thing I played on it just trying to figure out my way around on it.

“40 Watt Bulb” is a true story from a gig we did last winter. Froze my ass off for a week! I wrote “Three Chords” in Hawaii, it’s a song about writing songs. “Gracie” is a story about my Grandma, I just had to get it out. It’s got a real country-folk element to it, I guess that is the country boy in me coming out. “Shakin’ a Cup” is about the homeless situation in Seattle. We live downtown and it’s a real social problem in Seattle. It makes me profoundly sad to see all of the homeless people. I’m sure it’s like that all over the country these days with this economy.

BW: Do you plan to continue with solo projects or is there a Taildragger album on the horizon?

TS: My goal is to do another Too Slim and the Taildraggers record next year, budget permitting. I suppose I’ll do another solo record someday. I’d spend all my time making records if I could. If I had my way I’d probably hole up in the studio and you’d never see me again! I do like playing live though. It’s fun to make a record and then figure out how to make the songs sound good live with a trio.

BW: Describe the Latin presence on this album.

TS: Nancy has been spending time in Mexico painting with Toller Cranston, so maybe that has influenced me. “La Llorona” is probably a result of that. I love Latin music and I think it’s crept in to some of my Too Slim and the Taildragger tunes through the years. It’s interesting to me that you asked me that question because I would not even have thought that there was a Latin presence? I certainly was not thinking about it. I really wanted to make an album like Neil Young’s Harvest. I end up with the blues stuff in there though, can’t get away from it!

BW: Moving to Nashvegas I hear? Tell us about that.

TS: Nancy and I are moving to Nashville October 1. The main reason is to get more centrally located for touring with Too Slim and the Taildraggers. Seattle is a very difficult place to tour from. I really want to play more dates east of the Mississippi. Nashville is one of the music capitals of the world and I’ve always thought my music had a strong southern influence. I have always gravitated to southern music, ever since I started playing guitar.

There are so many great musicians and songwriters in Nashville and I felt the need to surround myself in that environment. Nancy and I felt that we were also ready for a new adventure, so why not Nashville, it sounded like as good of a place as any! I’ve always wanted to live down south. My goal when I got out of high school, way back when, was to move to Memphis and play the blues. I guess life just got in the way, but better late than never!

BW: Do you handle your own publishing or are you interested in partnering with an established publishing company?

TS: I do handle my own publishing, but I am very interested in expanding the publishing possibilities. I am hoping to learn more about that part of the business. I would love to have other artists record my songs. I’m sure every songwriter feels that way. Interesting that you ask, as I just had a conversation with someone from Seattle who works in Nashville all of the time wanting to help me with publishing!

BW: Describe the genre or genres that you incorporated into this album and what are your near-future expectations?

TS: I love all genre’s of American roots music. I try to mix it all together all the time. There is a songwriter element to Broken Halo and I really want to work on becoming a better songwriter. I have no expectations other than trying to be a better musician and be the best person I can be all the time. I just hope people like what I do and and want to come see me perform, and that’s about it in a nutshell for me.

 

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Free Your Mind (Underworld Records) is the 10th studio release from Too Slim and the Taildraggers. Front man Tim Langford (AKA “Too Slim”) has been doing this for a couple of decades now, building a devoted fan base, branching out from their home area in Seattle and having shared the stage over the years with the likes of Bo Diddley, Brian Setzer, Otis Rush, Robert Cray, Johnny Lang, Los Lobos, Lonnie Mack, Travis Tritt, Ted Nugent, Delbert McClinton, and a score of other big names. The band has won multiple awards in various Northwest readers’ polls, and has been recognized as best regional act by the Cascade Blues Association 11 times.

Langford wrote all of the tunes on Free Your Mind. “When You Love Somebody” is a love song with Skynyrd overtones, and “Last Train” was written after Langford read the newspaper one morning, with lines taken from actual headlines that day. “Devil In A Doublewide” would have been a southern rock classic back in the day. The title cut has great slide guitar and lyrics and some solid advice. “Testament” is a dark song with Langford begging for strength and endurance, and “Been Thru Hell” is about having the resolve to make it through the tough times.

The moody “Peace With The Maker” covers a deal with the devil and its repercussions. If more of us took the advice offered in “Bottle It Up” (keeping our traps shut), we’d be the better for it (more great slide work from Langford). “Throw Me A Rope” is a modern take on the “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” theme, and “This Phone” is a humorous song about being “lovesick and lonesome” and sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring (Yeah, we’ve all done it). The closing track, “The Light,” is a gospel tune, featuring a memorable vocal turn from Lauren Evans.

Langford is one of the better guitarists you’ll hear and dazzles with his highly original fretwork. He gets excellent support from the Taildraggers (Dave Nordstrom – bass, Rudy Simone – drums). Todd Smallwood produced the disc along with Langford, and plays Hammond B3 and 12-string guitar.

Simply put, if you have any sort of interest in blues, rock, roots, or Americana, you have to pick up Free Your Mind. You can thank me later.

 

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Solid Hard Blues

Frank Kocher, Turbula

A blues-rock trio that includes full-page ads for a barbeque sauce and a textile artisan in their album booklet can't be all bad. Together since 1986, Too Slim and the Taildraggers have released numerous albums, including 2007's "The Fortune Teller," and are back with "Free Your Mind." Their sound features the vocals and guitar work of Tim "Too Slim" Langford, and doesn't try for anything beyond familiar hard rock with good lead guitar breaks and sharp slide playing. The use of an occasional Hammond organ and female backup singers gives a taste of the Black Crowes, but this is mostly power trio music in the mold of Gov't Mule.

Spokane native Langford has an amiable vocal presence and is a smooth pro on the fretboard. His "Last Train" is a funny observational bit about world affairs; he's riding the last train and Hunter S. Thompson is the engineer. "Devil in a Devilwide" follows with heavy riffs behind grumbled vocals about a mojo mama with evil intentions. The disc's title track follows, and is also good – though it has nearly identical structure and is in the same key as "Devil" and somehow ended up sequenced right after it. Langford goes for a lengthy guitar opus on the slower "Testament," and it is clear that he is an admirer of Neil Young, because the solos on this cut mirror those on "Cowgirl in the Sand," as does the melody. "Peace With Your Maker" is another slower tune that features superb guitar work, while "This Phone" rocks harder. The album closer is "The Light," a gospel-blues sung by guest vocalist Lauren Evans. This sounds like a cut from a different disc, the vocal is superb and the arrangement lush, including tasty fills by Langford.

This is an experienced, road-tested band that realizes that Langford's Les Paul is the big draw, and the disc is a series of showcases for him to shine. The music is a good time, nothing extraordinary, but it rocks and has some hooks. What's not to like?

 

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Nine Bullets Review: The Fortune Teller

Too Slim and the Taildraggers recently released their 14th album, Fortune Teller. Despite numerous best-of awards and hall of fame inductions from three Blues societies, this was my first encounter with them. There seems to be a lot of Internet chatter about these guys in the blues genre. Personally, I don't hear it on Fortune Teller. Fortune Teller is a straight forward rock and roll record that mingles seamlessly between southern, swamp rock, Americana, and even a slight calypso-ish sound in Mexico. In the CD booklet Too Slim says that the making of this CD was a very difficult process. You certainly can not tell that from listening to the album. Fortune Teller is a great 'sitting on the front porch with some friends drinking whiskey' album, and I say that having test driven it on just such an occasion. This CD will appeal to fans of Skynyrd, The Drive-By Truckers, and electric blues acts such as the North Mississippi All-stars. I really look forward to diving deeper into Too Slim's more bluesy back catalogue and you can look for them to be featured on Nine Bullets more in the future. A quick note about the title track, Fortune Teller. Apparently it is based on a true story about Too Slim having a strange encounter - with a real fortune teller named Yogi, in a town square in Oslo, Norway, who seemed to know too much of Too Slim's past and present for comfort. Turns out he was equally accurate in the future area as well. Says Tim Langford, 'it was quite unnerving. My conversations with Yogi led to some serious life changing decisions for me. I know it sounds like I am making this up, but I promise you, it really happened.' --Nine Bullets

 

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews - AMAZON

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful

 

5.0 out of 5 stars

 They Just Keep Getting Better October 23, 2007

By Sea Viewer

Format:Audio CD

I've had the pleasure of seeing these guys live on several occassions over the past decade. Tim and the crew put on a very good show. They are true musicians who really enjoy what they do. I bought this album from Tim himself at Jazz Bones in Tacoma last December. From the first cut to the last this disc is excellent.Buy it now...you won't be disapointed!

 

5.0 out of 5 stars

 too slim, too good October 27, 2012

By Peter Johnston

Format:Audio CD|Amazon Verified Purchase

each new cd just gets better and better. great sounds and some brilliant new tracks. getting quite a collection of too slim and the gang, they really know how to pump out a great sound

 

5.0 out of 5 stars

 Maybe Their Best. January 11, 2012

By Misterian

Format:Audio CD|Amazon Verified Purchase

With albums like "Free Your Mind" and "The Fortune Teller," the transformation of Too Slim & The Taildraggers is complete. "Too Slim" Tim started out as a deep, dirty barroom blues kind of guy, but now he's penning straight-forward, upbeat rock and roll masterpieces. Just try the first two tracks, "The Fortune Teller" and "Cowboy Boot". These rank up there with all of the best classic rock radio hits that have gone out over the airwaves in the last few decades. Okay, so they're not a blues band any more. They're a damn good band, and that's all that matters. Get this album, and "Free Your Mind" too!

 

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Too Slim and the Taildraggers: Free Your Mind - 5 stars

Can't fault that for a name can you? FREE YOUR MIND is by all accounts Too Slim- aka Tim Landfords eleventh album and it certainly packs a punch. Released on his own Underworld Records, it is a collection of foot stomping, hard driving blues interspersed with the occasional slower number. For those who like their blues to really rock, then Too Slim's the man for you, the raspy delivery blending perfectly with a massive smoking guitar sound. This is a man of passion and talent who has been compared to some of the big names from John Mellencamp and Joe Walsh through to Lynard Skynard. Testament with its layers of haunting guitar work is hypnotic and seemingly influenced by the pain of the extremely harsh winter Seattle suffered this year. Last Train was virtually lifted from a copy of the Seattle Times and details the irony of the days news stories with wit and poetry. The track contains the classic fatalistic line: 'feel like im riding on the last train/ and Hunter S. Thompson is the engineer!" Free Your Self exhorts you to: 'Pour Yourself a cold one' and try everything before you get old.' The excellent Throw Me a Rope muses wistfully on just who might do that, when the chips are down and features and uplifting middle guitar solo. Classically, the best is saved for last when guest vocalist, Lauren Evans sings the gorgeous gospel tinged track The Light, which simply sends shivers down the spine. It's mean, it's raggedy, it's real, it's the blue with attitude.