Friday, August 03, 2007

Muddy Waters, James Cotton & Johnny Winter - Breakin' It Up, Breakin' It Down (Epic/Legacy, 2007)

In the wake of Muddy Waters excellent comeback album, Hard Again, these three gentlemen took part in a short live tour with the billing shared equally between them. The music on this disc demonstrates the democratic nature of the concerts, with each musician helping the others and everybody getting a piece of the limelight. The light shines strongly on the great man himself though. After years of having to do psychedelic blues experiments for Marshall Chess in an attempt to capture the youth market, Muddy was recording straight up blues again for Winter's Blue Sky imprint and sounding great doing it. His spotlight pieces here equal anything from the great Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live LP, and show a legend in full control of his powers. "Black Cat Bone/Dust My Broom" has the band blasting out of the gate with Muddy singing some Elmore James to boot! A stripped down "Can't Be Satisfied" superbly recalls the original 45 rpm version of the tune. After that, Muddy takes a bow and allows for Cotton and Pinetop Perkins to lay down a swinging "Caldonia" before Cotton and Winter promptly run the whole ship aground with a mugging and hot-dogging version of "Dealin' With the Devil." Admirably, they pull it together for solid versions of "Rocket 88" and "Done Got Over It." Winter steps up with credible renditions of "Mama Talk to Your Daughter" and "Done Got Over It" before Muddy stomps back out and shows his proteges how it's really done by belting out chest thumping versions of "Trouble No More" and "Got My Mojo Workin'" to round out the disc. This is a very fine example of three generation of bluesmen making good music and enjoying the heck out of each others company. Muddy Waters had a wonderful second act from 1977-81 and any snapshots of that are most welcome. Recommended to fans of electric blues.

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