Watermleon Slim: Wreck on the Highway
Wreck on the Highway
Watermelon Slim (lead vocal, harmony vocals, dobro)
Escape from the Chicken Coop (Northern Blues 054)
Watermelon Slim (lead vocal, harmony vocals, dobro),
Darrell Scott (acoustic guitar, mandolin), Kenny Malone (drums), Charlie Chadwick (bass).
Composed by Dorsey Dixon.
Recorded: Nashville, Fall, 2008
Rating: 91/100 (learn more)
If blues artists have sung of trains and mules and other forms of transport, why not long-haul trucking? The cover of Watermelon Slim's new CD Escape from the Chicken Coop finds our star comfortably ensconced behind the wheel, jabbering on the ceebee and scouting the horizon for the next Denny's Grand Slam. Let's just hope he doesn't try to drive and play slide guitar at the same time.
You will be glad to learn that "Wreck on the Highway" was not inspired by Slim's own experiences on the road, but comes from Roy Acuff, who had a hit with it back during World War II. (And though Acuff is credited as composer on this CD, even he borrowed it from Dorsey Dixon—who did base it on a real car crash.) Yet Acuff rarely performed "Wreck on the Highway," because he didn't think the song was suitable for establishments where the clientele drink alcohol—and, yep, that pretty much rules them all out until that Carnegie Hall end-of-career retrospective arrives on the schedule.
Watermelon Slim stays true to the spirit of the song, serving up a moving gospel-ish rendition, with a deep, gravelly lead vocal over sweet harmonies and understated accompaniment. He takes it at a slower pace than Acuff and the processional pulse amplifies the grieving tone of the somber lyrics. Slim is a master of hot electric blues, but this is roots music for the porch swing in the evening. No dancin' allowed, and please nothing stronger than grandma's lemonade.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia