Sunday, November 27, 2011

Leftovers (Creepy Crawlies): I’m a King Bee

Slim Harpo: I‘m a King Bee


Muddy Waters: I‘m a King Bee


I had big plans for Creepy Crawlies week. I started off with Praying Mantis, and then… our internet service went out for the remainder of the week. I’m a King Bee was one of the songs I never had a chance to post.

I first heard I’m a King Bee on the Rolling Stones’ first album. In their early days, the Stones covered a lot of American blues, and they always encouraged their audiences to seek out the blues artists who had inspired them. When I eventually did that, I found the original version of the song, by Slim Harpo. I’m a King Bee was Harpo’s first single in 1957. His version emphasizes the groove, and he and his band lay down a fine one. Harpo sounds quite a bit like Jimmy Reed, who had emerged from the Chicago blues scene a year earlier. But Harpo was actually from Louisiana, and he never came north, except to tour. I’m a King Bee, however, did go north to Chicago. Muddy Waters recorded the song on his last album in 1981. Waters’ version has a much more layered sound, with guitars and harmonica prominent in the mix. The song takes this treatment very well indeed. It’s hard to believe, listening to this, that Waters was very ill at the time he recorded it.

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