Thursday, June 26, 2008

Muddy Waters Sings Big Bill Broonzy (Chess, 1960)

The era before Chess Records was a vibrant one for blues music in Chicago with the likes of Tampa Red, John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson, and the great Big Bill Broonzy presiding over a vibrant scene. Broonzy welcomed the influx of musicians from the generation that followed as well, passing the torch to a new group of legends to be. Muddy Waters never forgot the kindness shown to him by the older man, and paid his respects by cutting this classic album of Broonzy related material in his own style of electric Chicago blues. Cut with a killer band including Otis Spann on piano, James Cotton on harmonica and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on drums, the music cruises through a wonderful selection of music. Muddy absolutely swaggers through Broonzy's "Just a Dream (On My Mind)" and "When I Get to Drinkin'" and his own "Done Got Wise" and simmers the slow blues of contemporary Otis Rush on "Double Trouble." The band is with him every step of the way, Cotton had just replaced Little Walter and was eager to strut his stuff, and Spann's deep and delicate piano added extra depth to all the songs. With these attached to a rock solid foundation of Smith's no nonsense drumming and Muddy's man's man vocals it adds up to one of the classic albums of the blues.

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