Monday, March 30, 2009

Muddy Waters - Authorized Bootleg (MCA/Chess, 2009)

This is a very exciting find, a disc with parts of three well recorded live sets featuring the great bluesman Muddy Waters and a crack band made up of Francis Clay on drums, Mac Arnold on bass, Sam Lawhorn on guitar, George Smith on harmonica and Luther Johnson on guitar. Muddy is in typically swaggering form and I can only wonder at what the hippies at the Fillmore West thought of this band when they performed this music there in November of 1966. It's interesting to hear Muddy with the two guitar, no piano lineup but it works really well and the the guitarists (including Muddy's awesome slide) stretch out with some excellent workouts on some tracks. But it's his voice that dominates this collection, coming through like a force of nature, filled with strength, emotion and the very essence of masculinity. Waters had just released the soul flavored Muddy, Brass and Blues LP on Chess, but passes most of that material by to focus on chestnuts like "Trouble No More" which has emphatic vocals and swooping harmonica from Smith. "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had" takes the group back to the delta with a spare arrangement, and the Big Joe Williams standard "Baby Please Don't Go" receives a powerfully graceful treatment. Listening to the band bust out on the super uptempo version of "Got My Mojo working" working is very exciting and the band is hitting on all cylinders, as they are on the proud, strutting "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man" where the great man proudly declares his manliness. This disc compares favorably with the live Muddy classics like Live at Newport and Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live, and is a must hear for anybody who loves deep down in the alley Chicago blues.
Authorized Bootleg - amazon.com

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