Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters is the best Chicago Bluesman the ever lived. You may argue about football results, legal decisions and government policies. But when it comes to Chicago Blues, you have to hand it to McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters. You cannot argue about that. Muddy epitomizes the essence of Chicago Blues. He was sexy, powerful and mesmerizing. Muddy Waters combined the Delta Blues with the electric ago to make a new brand of music. He created what I would call "Uptown Delta Blues". The excitement he generated on stage was phenomenal and something to behold. Have a look at his performance at The Band’s farewell concert The Last Waltz. Muddy is simply larger than life. He can sing a whole song against one chord and move you like no one can.

Whilst Muddy had been recording since the late 1930’s, ironically the best of his recordings came in the 1970’s when Johnny Winter produced his studio recordings and one live recordings under Blues Sky CBS label. In the 1970’s, Muddy Waters went without a recording contract and CBS had the wisdom to sign him up through one of its subsidiaries Blue Sky. After signing up Muddy, CBS had a big problem on their hands, they had to find a producer for Muddy. The searched high and low, far and near. There was simply no one up to Muddy’s level. In the end, the got Johnny Winter to produce Muddy’s recordings.

With Johnny Winter as producer, Muddy made several recordings. Each one is a jem. Muddy had simply the best Blues musicians alive to back him in these recordings. James Cotton and Jerry Portnoy on Blues harp, Calvin Jones on bass, “Pine Top” Perkins on piano, Willie “Big Eye” Smith on drums, Luther “Guitar Jr.”, Bob Margolin and Johnny Winter on guitars. Each of the backing musicians is a master and star in their own right. I think this series of recordings represented the most star-studded recordings ever made in record history. These are the recordings made during that period :-


Hard Again

I'm Ready

Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live

King Bee

The first of this series of recordings was Hard Again recorded in October, 1976. The sound and feel of the music was so lively, you could just feel the whole band grooving. The secret is the way in which the session was recorded. Johnny Winter simply booked a studio in Connecticut with a room large enough to accommodate the whole band and had everyone miked up and had a big mike in the middle of room to catch all the natural echo. Muddy recut his1941 recording I Be’s Troubled as I Can’t Be Satisfied. During play-back when Muddy heard the music he said the music “made my little pee-pee hard again”. Hence the name of the record. It took two days to record . I’m Ready was cut the following year. Then came Muddy “Mississippi” Waters Live. In 1980, Muddy recorded King Bee which turned out to be Muddy’s swan song. Muddy died on 30th April, 1983.

These recordings are absolute essential to anyone mildly interested in the Blues. With Muddy Waters you can always hear the Country Blues in his electrified music. You can feel his roots and wasn't he sexy. His voice is the most mesmerizing and distinctive in record history. Apart from Louis Armstrong and Robert Johnson, in my opinion, no one ever comes close to Muddy. His backing band often sounded lazy and laid back but there was always this irresistible underling rhythm going on. This is also where the demarcation line between “White Blues” and “Black Blues” are drawn. With White Blues, the rhythm moves up and down but with Black Blues, the rhythm goes sideways. This is the best graphic description I can go you.

With any band, the first thing is the bass and drums. Willie “Big Eye” Smith is simple one of the best Blues drummer that ever trodded this earth. Willie never seems to keep a constant tempo, when he does a drum roll you really worry about him missing the first beat of the next bar. But the man has a singing quality to his drumming. As to the other musicians, I really don’t know where to begin introducing them, if indeed any introduction is required. I would be writing a book introducing them. If you are new to the Blues, you might want to start with Hard Again. Then and again, any one of these is a good place to start to find out about the Blues. Electric Blues just don't come better than this. This series of Muddy Waters recording repesented the perfect marriage between Delta Blues and the electic age. There simply is no one like Muddy who personified the electic Delta Bluesman and Muddy was at the peak of his powers in these sessions.

 

 

 

What a line-up!!! The Dream Team of Chicago Blues

If you are interested in Muddy's early recordings, try the Chess Box. They will give you an evenining of good enjoyment. But with sheer energy, electirfying performances, the Blue Sky recordings are the ones to choose.

 

 

Muddy Waters Chess Box