Sunday, March 27, 2005

Muddy Waters - One More Mile (MCA/Chess, 1993)

One More Mile was a vault clearing exercise that MCA filled with alternate takes, unreleased recordings and most interestingly, an eleven song acoustic performance done for a Swiss radio station in the early 1970's. Since for the most part Muddy could do no wrong during his Chess tenure (if the Chess family didn’t ask him to do cheesy commercial projects, that is) there is much to admire in the music collected here.

Disc one begins with alternate takes from Muddy’s first recording sessions for the label, wonderful raw blues where he’s backed only by the bassist Big Crawford. From there we move into Muddy’s classic period in the mid to late 1950's. Now he was cutting classic Willie Dixon penned songs and performing and recording them with the likes of Jimmy Rogers, Little Walter and other Chicago luminaries. Among the unreleased tracks are interesting alternate takes of well known tunes like "Crawling Kingsnake" and "Rolling Stone." Also, great Waters versions os Dixon’s "Tiger in Your Tank" and "I Got My Brand on You" are finally released.

Disc two moves onto the second half of Waters tenure at Chess and removes some of the overdubbed horns from the Muddy Brass and Blues album that annoyed blues fans leaving clean unadorned versions of "Trouble in Mind" and "Trouble Trouble" allowing you to hear the mid-60's band featuring James Cotton on harmonica in all their glory. At the end of the second disc is the Swiss radio broadcast which has wonderful stripped down acoustic versions of Muddy standards like "Rollin’ and Tumblin’" and "Hoochie Coochie Man." That set alone is worth tracking this down. Given MCA’s cavalier attitude about reissuing material, this set may no longer be in print, but it is well worth searching for in any case considering the wealth of excellent material included.

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