"You Better Watch Yourself"
By Steven Sharp
For years he was a man of few words; content, it seemed, to stand at the edge of the spotlight. Now, Teardrops bassist Nick Holt is speaking up on a debut solo album entitled, "You Better Watch Yourself." Listeners will find Holt with a lot to say and beautiful way of saying it.
Fans of Magic Slim and the Teardrops' live shows already know that Nick Holt has been known to sing the occasional number to prime the crowd for the arrival of his brother Slim. With this disc, however, we finally get to sit back, away from the beer-swilling crowd, to sink our teeth into the fare the younger Holt cooks up.
The tracks for "You Better Watch Yourself" were recorded in Chicago and Wolf's home base, Vienna, Austria, between 1989 and 1995. On the disc, Holt spends more than one hour exploring a number of musical styles. He roughs up covers of soul greats Tyrone Davis ("Can I Change My Mind?") and McKinley Mitchell ("The Town I Live In"). He then moves to funk-blues and the more traditional music of Mercy Dee Walton and B.B. King. From start to finish, Holt seems equally comfortable with each style.
This freshman outing, however, goes beyond just proven cover numbers. Holt, with John Primer on second guitar and Eddie Shaw often on sax, presents several originals, though not six, as Wolf indicates. Among the best of Holt's compositions is "Sittin' In My Bedroom," a number on which poor Nick laments the anxiety of waiting for his lover to call. At album's close, Holt, in the live setting, also turns in a moving vocal rendition of "As the Years Go Passing By." This is heard to electrify a crowd at the Rockhaus in Vienna in '92.
It could be argued that almost anyone could make a decent solo album with the Magic Slim and the Teardrops as their backing band. Holt, however, just made a great one.
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