Jimi “Prime Time” Smith: On Give Me Wings

As a singer, Jimi “Prime Time” Smith has limited pipes. As a guitar player, he rates much higher. On Give Me Wings (Atomic Theory ATM 1142; 73:52), recorded live at Blues Alley in Minneapolis, Smith wails with liquidy Hendrixian facility on the blues, stretching into headier realms than your basic 12-bar cliches through his hip phrasing and choice of notes. That jazzy quality is evident on the opener, Benny Golson’s oft-recorded “Killer Joe.” Minneapolis resident Jack McDuff sits in on one number, his own minor key vamp “Walkin’ the Dog,” which recalls Hendrix’s B-3 organ shuffle “Rainy Day Dream Away.” Prime Time gets down in the alley on his Jimmy Reedish original “U for Me,” featuring guest harmonica player Tom Burns, and on a rough rendition of his mother Johnnie Mae Dunson’s “When You’re Doin’ Alright.” But he unleashes his most savage licks on two tribute numbers -Albert Collins’ slow blues “If Trouble Was Money” and Luther Allison’s show stopping shuffle “Soul Fixin’ Man.” Smith manages to pay tribute to both Collins and Johnny Guitar Watson on a nasty “One Woman Too Many,” then turns in a stirring rendition of Albert King’s “I’ll Play the Blues for You” before stomng on the distortion box for the crunchy closer, “Last Nite.” A solid and soulful offering from this Chicago native and current Minneapolis resident.