FOR ANYONE foolish enough to think Root Boy Slim has cleaned up his act, his new release "Left For Dead" comes with this disclaimer: "This album is a spontaneous blues jam -- recorded in one session, unwritten and unrehearsed."

It's unrehearsed all right. Root Boy never so much as clears his throat.

If the W. C. Handy blues awards had a category for "best hangover," this album would be a shoo-in. It's a blurry, blood-shot collection of modern-day horrors from, as Root Boy puts it, "the sad story ward." The man does have a way with words. He also has more than a nodding acquaintance with the subject at hand.

As for his ravaged voice, say what you will about it -- everyone else has. At least it doesn't mangle Root Boy's best lines on songs like "Eviction Blues" or the album's title tune or the loping Percy Mayfield-like "Too Wrong To Be Right." Just to hear what's on Root Boy's mind, such as it is, is reason enough to hear this album but there's another incentive: a funky band that plays blues with more feeling than any of us probably have a right to expect.

ROOT BOY SLIM & THE SEX CHANGE BAND --

"Left for Dead" (Kingsnake 006). Root Boy Slim and the Homewreckers appear Friday at the Roxy.