Posts Tagged ‘Muddy Waters’


Muddy Waters was arguably the greatest and most famous bluesmen who migrated from Mississippi north to Chicago bent on a making a name for himself. It was a long, hard road out of the Mississippi Delta and almost unimaginable for Waters to go from picking cotton on Stovall’s Plantation in Mississippi to the Library of Congress recordings made by Alan Lomax of Waters on the farm in 1941. But from there he went on to the pinnacle of success in Chicago as the premier post-War blues master. Muddy Waters transcended all obstacles in reaching his goal, becoming the reigning Chess king in Chicago for nearly 25 years.

After moving to Chicago in 1943 and making a few sides for Columbia Records, Waters first recorded for the Chess brothers’ Aristocrat label in 1947, and by 1953 had hit his stride with one of the great Blues songwriters, Willie Dixon, providing the hits, and his seminal band with Little Walter Jacobs on harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on guitar, Elgin Evans on drums and Otis Spann on piano providing the groove. In 1960, Waters recorded the Blues classic “Muddy Waters at Newport,” “Folk Singer,” in 1964, the dreaded “Electric Mud,” in 1968, and the all-star “Fathers and Sons,” set in 1969. Waters reigned until Chess closed shop in the 1970s but got a second life with Johnny Winter later in the decade with four Blue Sky albums produced by the Beaumont Blaster. Grammy Award winners were “Hard Again,” (1977), and “I’m Ready,” (1978) and “King Bee,” (1981), all studio albums, and the acclaimed live set “Muddy “Mississippi” Waters.” which was released in 1979. The Rolling Stones came under his sway, recording many of his songs, and Rolling Stone magazine paid homage to both the Stones and Waters in the title of its publication. Waters was the template, setting the table for other Windy City Bluesmen that came in his wake such as Buddy Guy. He was the Hoochie Coochie Man – one of the greatest of the post-war Blues masters.

The Complete Plantation Recordings

Muddy Waters was bandleader, songwriter, guitarist, singer, song interpreter and the prime mover of the Chicago electric Blues scene, Muddy from the Mississippi Delta, like almost all the great electric bluesman of the post-war era. He was also a good man, who helped many younger or struggling musicians as they later bore witness. But whatever else he was, he will forever be the once and future King of the Chicago Blues. “No I ain’t no millionaire, but I had a lot of managers that became millionaires.”  Muddy Waters got his nickname from his grandmother, because he was always playing in a nearby creek as a child. It is a name that resonates way beyond the confines of the Blues. As the man who claimed that “The Blues had a baby and they named it rock ‘n’ roll,” he certainly had a point and his reputation among young white boy wannabe blues musicians was second to none. It was from a track on his 1958 album, from which a young British band took their name in 1962… and they went on to become, “The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World”.
Muddy Waters At Newport
Muddy Waters Folk Singer shows the depth of Muddy’s talent, his understanding of the Blues and his brilliance in playing them in whatever form he wanted. It is fair to say that without the album Muddy Waters Live at Newport 1960, no self-respecting white Blues band would dare not play at least half the numbers Muddy performed. The success of rock bands helped many a Bluesman’s career, both in the USA and as international acts; Muddy was no exception and in fact his recording career benefitted more than most. Albums including The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album and Unk in Funk offer a real insight into the thirty year recording career of the real legends of the Blues.
Unk In Funk

When he was about three years old McKinley Morganfield’s Mother died so he was sent to the Stovall farm to stay with his grandmother. After he grew up he began working on the plantation, while at the same time teaching himself the harmonica and later the guitar. He began playing in juke joints, at parties and dances in and around the Clarksdale area from about 1935 onwards.

When in the mid summer 1941 Alan Lomax recorded Muddy at Stovall’s for the Library of Congress; Muddy sang “Country Blues” and “Burr Clover Country Blues”. According to Howard Stovall whose family still own the farm. “He was the burr clover man, which was a cover crop to put nitrogen back in the soil. It’s drudge work, you hand rake it up and put it in bags and then spread the burrs around to improve next year’s crop. I had the honour of that job one summer, apparently Muddy felt about it the same way I did, only he was able to express it more eloquently.”

In 1943 Muddy moved north and like many before him, took the train to Chicago’s Illinois Central Station; initially finding work in a paper factory. Muddy began playing for tips on Maxwell Street soon after arriving in the city; Big Bill Broonzy helped the country boy break into the urban scene. He started working in clubs, playing with Eddie Boyd, as well as backing Sonny Boy Williamson No.1 at the Plantation Club. A switch from acoustic to electric guitar in 1944 galvanised Muddy’s career. He continued to play traditional Delta bottleneck, but the electric guitar transformed his sound and helped to “invent” post-war Chicago Blues. His 1946 recordings for Columbia with the doyen of Chicago Blues, Lester Melrose, went unreleased. It was not until the following year that Muddy would be heard playing on record, in the role of backing guitarist to Sunnyland Slim.

Waters and bass player Big Crawford recorded two other songs on the day he worked with Slim, but Leonard Chess was unimpressed and so they went unreleased. However, the following year Muddy and Crawford were back and cut ‘I Can’t Be Satisfied’ and ‘Feel Like Going Home’, which Leonard Chess released on the Checker label. The former was a reworking of  ‘I Be’s Troubled’, a song Muddy recorded for Lomax in 1941 and often played live. ‘Feel Like Going Home’ was a reworking of Son House’s ‘Walking Blues’. Muddy had huge respect for House and this is another song Muddy must have sang many times before this recording. The record sold out in less than a day, going on to make No.11 on the R&B charts in September 1948; years later Muddy recalled that he even had trouble buying a copy. Chess was anxious not to upset a winning formula and despite the fact that Muddy had his own band he continued to record Muddy as a duo or with Leroy Foster on guitar.

By the late 1940s his band included Leroy Foster on guitar or drums, Big Crawford on bass, Jimmy Rogers on guitar and harmonica and not long afterwards Little Walter Jacobs was added as the featured harmonica player. Muddy was only in his early 30s but he became the patriarch of the Chicago blues scene. With the pick of the city’s musicians in the 1950s, it was more a question of who didn’t play in Muddy Waters Band than who did. The Muddy Waters Blues Band was recording as an entity by 1951, the epitome of the hard-edged, driving electric Blues band of Chicago, a cornerstone of what we call rock music today.

In 1951 ‘Louisiana Blues’ became the second in his run of sixteen chart hits, which included classics like, ‘I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man’, ‘Just Make Love to Me’, ‘Mannish Boy’ and ‘Forty Days and Nights’. The man born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi also cut ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin”, ‘Rollin’ Stone’ and ‘They Call Me Muddy Waters’, in which he sings “I’m the most bluest man in this whole Chicago town”… few would disagree. Any and every one of these recordings captures the very essence of 1950s Chicago Blues.

The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album

In 1959 Muddy released Muddy Sings Big Bill, a tribute album to his former mentor who had died a year earlier. Muddy considered Big Bill to be “the Daddy of the Country Blues singers”, so when he first moved to the city it must have been amazing for the younger man to find such a star taking an interest in him. It also shows the similarity in style between the two singers. On the album Muddy is accompanied by his band of the moment, James Cotton on harp, Pat Hare on guitar and the brilliant Otis Spann on piano they perform ‘Just a Dream’, a perfect testimony to both men, while Muddy makes the song his own, Big Bill comes shining through.

‘I Feel So Good’ from the album exemplifies Muddy’s approach, brilliant interpretation and vocal delivery that is underpinned by tight ensemble playing. Otis Spann on piano, James Cotton’s harmonica and Pat Hare’s guitar are nothing but perfect. The following year at the Newport Festival Muddy performed the song, predominantly to a white audience, and it was captured for his album Muddy Waters at Newport; one of the great live albums and a favourite of many blues’ fans. As the band powers through the song the crowd can be heard responding to their brilliance with spontaneous shouts. Not that this one song was any different from many that Muddy performed, he affected everything he did with style and class.

The Folk SInger

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s Muddy’s band was the city’s premier recording outfit, a veritable academy of the Blues. Among those who played with Muddy were guitarists Jimmy Rogers, Luther Tucker, and Earl Hooker; harmonica players Junior Wells, Big Walter Horton and James Cotton, Willie Dixon on bass; pianists Memphis Slim, Otis Spann, and Pinetop Perkins along with drummer Fred Below. Another was Buddy Guy who played on Muddy’s essential 1964  album, Muddy Waters “Folk Singer”. He was another musician who had a lot to thank Muddy for…

My mother had a stroke and I left Baton Rouge, Louisiana September 25th 1957 and I went to Chicago. I actually was looking for just a regular job to help my mum, but I ran into a bad situation. I couldn’t get work, nobody would hire me. I played on the street first, one day this man grabbed me by the hand and walked me in this club. It was Otis playing, the guy told Otis to call me up and I played ‘Things I Used to Do’, and someone called Muddy on the phone. I was pretty hungry ‘cos it was the third day without food. Muddy came in and just smacked me and said wait a minute, I heard about you, they done call me and got me out the bed. He said you hungry, I said you Muddy Waters, I’m not hungry, I’m full, I met you.”

Muddy like many of his contemporaries toured Britain in the 1960s as part of the American Folk Blues Festivals; his reception was better than when he had previously visited Britain at the invitation of Chris Barber in 1958, the jazz trombonist. Many people in the jazz fraternity, who were the keepers of the blues flame in 50s Britain decided it was a travesty for Muddy to play with amplification. Somehow these blues zealots decided that the only pure blues was acoustic thank goodness ideas changed. In May 1964 Otis Spann cut a single at Decca studios in London with producer Mike Vernon. On ‘Pretty Girls Everywhere’ and ‘Stirs Me Up’ Otis was accompanied by Muddy Waters on rhythm guitar and Eric Clapton on lead. Some years later Eric recalled “they were both very friendly, and they had beautiful shiny silk suits, with big trousers!”

Electric Mud

As the Blues languished somewhat in the late 60s, then so did Muddy’s career. In the 1970s he toured constantly and by 1977 he had signed with CBS Records. Collaborating with Johnny Winter, Muddy’s career took an upturn with the release of the album Hard Again in 1977, winning him a Grammy. A second album, I’m Ready, was followed by a tour of the U.S. including a performance at the White House for Pres­ident Jimmy Carter.

Muddy worked live with Johnny Winter in the early 80s before succumbing to a heart attack in his sleep aged sixty-eight in 1983. Muddy’s influence as well as the respect that he commanded among the Rock community was acknowledged when he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Hoochie Coochie Man: Complete Chess Masters, Volume 2 - 1952-1958


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Third Man Records is proud to announce the reissue of Muddy Waters’ fifth studio album Electric Mud, which comes as a continuation of Third Man’s partnership with Universal Music Group and the Estate of Muddy Waters. Released in 1968, it imagines Muddy Waters as a psychedelic musician. Producer Marshall Chess suggested that Muddy Waters recorded it in an attempt to appeal to a rock audience.

The album, which Chess originally released in 1968 has not seen a legitimate domestic vinyl release since 2002, despite its enormous influence on generations of blues rockers. It features members of Rotary Connection as Muddy’s backing band and was very controversial upon its release for its fusion of electric blues with psychedelic elements. The album is now recognized as a forward-thinking classic, sampled extensively by artists like The Black Keys and Gorillaz.

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The Rolling Stones  –  On Air

On Air is a collection of rarely heard radio recordings from The Rolling Stones formative years. The songs, including eight the band have never recorded or released commercially, were originally broadcast on bygone UK BBC shows such as Saturday Club, Top Gear, Rhythm and Blues and The Joe Loss Pop Show between 1963 and 1965. These flashbacks offer an insight into the band as a vital and constantly surprising live unit. Such was the frequency with which they visited BBC studios in the 60’s, the group constantly set out to offer listeners something different. As well as songs that never appeared on singles or albums, there are seven tracks that were debuted over the airwaves before featuring on albums or EPs.

The group’s take on familiar R&B staples like Roll Over Beethoven, Memphis, Tennessee and Beautiful Delilah (all originated by Chuck Berry) illustrate the verve and energy the Stones regularly brought to their live shows. The BBC would urge them to perform their current singles, and while happy to do so they also relished the opportunity to showcase a fuller picture of their prowess as Britain’s foremost blues outfit, packing clubs and ballrooms night after night.

Among the tracks, first heard ringing out of transistor radios over a period of just under two years, is Come On, the group’s debut single and also the first number laid down for the iconic Saturday Club, hosted by the late, legendary Brian Matthew. Other highlights include the strutting Fannie Mae(originally recorded by bluesman Buster Brown in 1959), Tommy Tucker’s Hi Heel Sneakers, and Bo Diddley’s Cops And Robbers. Nestling among the illustrious and well-chosen cover versions, are raw and vibrant renditions of Stones Jagger / Richards originals, such as (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, The Last Time and The Spider And The Fly in a form closer to the thrilling immediacy of the band’s live shows than on vinyl. These recordings bring the listener as near as possible to the excitement of the era without actually being there in person. If last year’s collection of new recordings of past masters Blue and Lonesome presented the Stones returning to their roots after more than 50 years, On Air is the perfect “sister” compendium, a lovingly curated and restored treasure trove that puts the listener front and centre in the eye of the original storm. To help recapture the spirit of the songs when they were first performed, the tapes have gone through a process called “audio source separation”, which involved de-mixing the transcripts and allowing engineers at Abbey Road access to the original instrumentation and voices within each track, so that they could be rebuilt, rebalanced and remixed to achieve a fuller, more substantial sound. The end result is the Stones at their most passionate and intense, transporting listeners back to the band’s lean and hungry years when their standing as household names was already assured, and global domination was just 12 bars away.

The variety of radio shows from which the material is compiled is testament to the special relationship the Stones had with the BBC from the very beginning of their recording career. The music speaks for itself, but ‘On Air’ also serves as an important historical artefact, and an essential of the group’s impressively evergreen canon. On Air offer a unique insight into the formative days of The Rolling Stones a few years before ‘The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the World’ became a reality this was a band playing the music they loved so much – Blues, R&B, Soul and even the odd country song. Performing these songs night after night in clubs and dancehalls meant they are all honed to perfection and performed with the genuine love and affection that The Stones have for their musical heritage.

The Rolling Stones’ On Air marks the first wide release of any of the band’s live BBC sessions, recorded during the beginning of their storied career.  An audio companion to the recently published book of the same name, On Air features a bevy of tracks recorded between 1963, when the group appeared on Saturday Club just months after the release of their debut single, a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On,” and 1965, when the band returned to the show armed not only with more great blues and soul covers but a new original, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”  Available in 1CD and 2CD formats, as well as a 2LP vinyl edition (which replicates the contents of the 1CD version).

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Muddy Waters  –  Electric Mud

Third Man Records reissue of Muddy Waters’ fifth studio album Electric Mud, which comes as a continuation of Third Man’s partnership with Universal Music Group and the Estate of Muddy Waters. The album, which Chess originally released in 1968 has not seen a legitimate domestic vinyl release since 2002, despite its enormous influence on generations of blues rockers. It features members of Rotary Connection as Muddy’s backing band and was very controversial upon its release for its fusion of electric blues with psychedelic elements. The album is now recognized as a forward-thinking classic, sampled extensively by artists like The Black Keys and Gorillaz.

Van Morrison  – Versatile

Van the man releases his 38th studio album Versatile, which arrives less than three months after the singer released his 37th studio album Roll With the Punches. While Roll With the Punches, found Morrison reinterpreting the work of blues and soul legends like Sam Cooke, Bo Diddley and Little Walter, Versatile sees the Irish crooner shifting to jazz standards like George and Ira Gershwin’s A Foggy Day and They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Cole Porter’s I Get a Kick Out of You and Unchained Melody, popularized by the Righteous Brothers. Like Roll With the Punches, the covers are interspersed with Morrison originals; the singer penned seven new songs for Versatile, including an arrangement of the traditional Skye Boat Song.

For his second studio album of the year, Van Morrison has turned to the classics.  Versatile features six Morrison compositions alongside jazz vocal standards and other legends of the Great American Songbook.  Of the six Morrison-penned songs, three are originals and three have been previously recorded: “I Forgot That Love Existed,” “Only a Dream,” and “Start All Over Again” – on Poetic Champions Compose (1987), Down the Road (2002), and Enlightenment (1990), respectively.  Flautist Sir James Galway appears on the new Morrison song “Affirmation.”

Neil Young and Promise of the Real  –  The Visitor

In addition to new single Already Great, the 10-track album The Visitor also includes Young’s patriotic Children of Destiny, which the rock legend surprise-released on July 4th. Young recorded that song at Hollywood, California’s famed Capitol Studios alongside Promise of the Real – led by Willie Nelson’s son Lukas – and a 56-piece orchestra; in total, 62 musicians played on the track. The Visitor, also arrives less than a year after Young released his solo Peace Trail in December 2016; earlier that year, Young and Promise of the Real unleashed their double-disc live LP Earth.

Neil Young with the band Promise of the Real for his latest studio album on the same day that he opens his online archives for business.  Songs like “Already Great,” “Fly by Night Deal,” and “When Bad Got Good” show Young as fiercely political and fiery as ever.

U2  –  Songs of Experience 

U2 return with their hotly anticipated new studio album Songs of Experience. Recorded in Dublin, New York and Los Angeles, Songs of Experience was completed earlier this year with its subject matter influenced by Brendan Kennelly’s* advice to Bono, to “…write as if you’re dead”. The result is a collection of songs in the form of intimate letters to places and people close to the singer’s heart: family, friends, fans and indeed himself. Songs Of Experience is the companion release to 2014’s Songs Of Innocence, the two titles drawing inspiration from a collection of poems, Songs of Innocence and Experience, by the 18th century English mystic and poet William Blake. Produced by Jacknife Lee and Ryan Tedder, with Steve Lillywhite, Andy Barlow and Jolyon Thomas, the album features a cover image by Anton Corbijn of band-members’ teenage children Eli Hewson and Sian Evans.

U2 is garnering acclaim for this newest studio album, a follow-up to 2014’s Songs of Innocence.  

Wilco, A.M. / Being There

Wilco revisits its first two albums this week.  A.M., the band’s 1995 debut, is expanded on 1 CD or 2 LPs with eight previously unreleased bonus tracks, including “When You Find Trouble,” the last track recorded by Jeff Tweedy’s previous band, Uncle Tupelo.  The band’s sophomore double album, Being There, morphs into a 5-CD or 4-LP box set by pairing the original album with a disc of 15 unreleased outtakes and alternates plus a clutch of live material recorded in Los Angeles just after the release of the original album. (The vinyl includes a radio set for KCRW-FM, while the CD box has that, plus a lengthy show recorded at The Troubadour a day before that appearance, on November 12th, 1996.)

Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols: 40th Anniversary Edition

UMG revisits the long out-of-print 2012 Super Deluxe Edition of The Sex Pistols’ album in a smaller format still boasting 3 CDs which include the original studio album with 1977 B-sides, a disc of outtakes, and one disc of live material. A DVD has 1977 footage of the band playing live from the infamous boat party held on the River Thames, London, the Winter Gardens, Penzance in Cornwall and the Happy House, Stockholm, Sweden.  A 48-page booklet rounds out the set.  Available today in the U.K., and next Friday in the U.S.

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The Skids  –  Scared to Dance

Deluxe Expanded Edition of the debut album by The Skids. Originally released in March 1979 the album spent ten weeks in the UK National Charts, eventually peaking at No.19. The hit singles Sweet Suburbia (No.70), The Saints Are Coming (No.48) and Into The Valley (No.10) are all featured. This three CD edition contains the original album expanded with nine bonus tracks, a second disc with 12 previously unreleased 1978 studio demos (long sought after by collectors of the band) and a third disc with the complete show from a late `78 show at the legendary London Marquee from which the B-side T.V. Stars (Albert Tatlock!) was taken. Each disc comes in its own cardboard wallet and is housed in a clam shell box featuring original album artwork. A 20-page booklet contains lyrics to the album, pictures of all relevant singles and detailed liner notes.

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Hater  –  Red Blinders

Rough Trade Shops top tip.You can imagine John Peel’s hurriedly inaccurate summation of a cold and unforgiving Swedish winter as he juxtaposes the big-jumper-like welcoming warmth of Hater. Their lush and tempered guitars are an almost Marr-approved Smiths-like foil for Caroline Landahl’s beautifully accented and accentuated vocal – it’s a heartwarming brew. Hater are new to the game. Last year’s well-received debut album, You Tried earned comparisons to Alvvays, The Pretenders and even Jefferson Airplane, eclectic for sure, but that’s just incidental. Their new EP distinguishes their very own super polished and intricate guitar-led dreamy pop. Featuring their first single for Fire, the wonderfully forlorn and truly lovesick Blushing (we’ve all been there) and Rest with its haunting monosyllabic guitar break, a super-clean chiming motif that seems like a closing salvo before it regains momentum and brings proceedings to a suitable climax, welcoming back Landahl for one last chorus. The echoey eeriness of Red Blinders could have come right out of the bubble blowing indie pop hey days of the early ‘80s, while Penthouse is a chunkier c86 groove with a wind blowing through its motorik rhythm.


The Lovely Eggs  –  Cob Dominos

Repressed on their own Lovely Eggs imprint. Described as unhinged, strange, bizarre, cuckoo and howling mad; but with a growing army of fans including Radio One’s Huw Stephens and Art Brut’s Eddie Argos you’d be crazy not to fall in love with their underground grunge-pop sound. Inspired by everyday life, coupled with a fierce ethos that music should be about magic and art and feeling and fun, the Lancashire duo have more in common with writer Richard Brautigan and artist David Shrigley than they do with their musical peers.

Big Country, – We’re Not In Kansas (The Live Bootleg Box Set 1993-1998)

One of the Scottish alt-rock group’s lesser-known periods is examined in this band-approved 5CD set of recordings of live shows across the U.S. and Europe during their second decade.

Other Re-Issues Releases This Week on Vinyl and CD

Suicide – The First Rehearsal Tapes – Superior Viaduct
Olafur Arnalds – Eulogy For Evolution – Erased Tapes
Bob Dylan & The Band – The Basement Tapes – We Are Vinyl
Bob Dylan & The Band – Before The Flood – We Are Vinyl
The Specials – The Specials – Chrysalis
Special AKA – In The Studio – Chrysalis
Tom Waits – Glitter & Doom Live – Anti
Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained – Silver Lining
Andy Human & The Reptoids – Kill The Comma 7″ – Emotional Response
Protomartyr – Under  Color Of Official Right – Hardly Art

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, playing a musical instrument and guitar

Muddy Waters’ album “Electric Mud”, which Chess Records originally released in 1968, has not seen a legitimate domestic vinyl release since 2002, despite its enormous influence on generations of blues rockers. It features members of Rotary Connection as Muddy’s backing band and was very controversial upon its release for its fusion of electric blues with psychedelic elements. The album is now recognized as a forward-thinking classic, sampled extensively and widely admired.

Pre-order the reissue, pressed at the highest quality at Third Man Pressing, now: