Sunday, July 11, 2004

Muddy Waters - At Newport (Chess, 1959)

Muddy Waters was on a huge roll when he hit Newport in the summer of 1959. Leading a killer band featureing James Cotton on harmonica and Otis Spann on piano, Muddy owned Chicago and was looking to expand his empire. Of all the music inspired mayem at Newport over the years, the Paul Gonsalves inspired dancing lunacy of 1958 and the so-called "youth riot" of 1960, perhaps the most explosive was the crowd's reacting to Muddy's "Got My Mojo Workin'." The response of the audience was so blistering that the band had to play it again, so they could get enough.

But that is far from the only highlight here. The band swaggers through Big Joe Williams classic composition "Baby Please Don't Go" and roars through a blasting version of "Tiger in Your Tank" with Cotton's harmonica leading the charge. This was the first time live blues had been released on record and it was blues at its most explosive. Along with Live at the Regal by B.B. King, this sets the gold standard for a live blues album.

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