Saturday, June 16, 2012

Muddy Waters in Mississippi and Paris

Muddy Waters was a towering perfumer who I had the opportunity to see a number of times ranging from him opening for Moby Grape at Central Park (where one could not hear Otis Spann’s piano) to touring with the band that had Pinetop Perkins, Luther ‘Guitar Jr.’ Johnson, and Bob Margolin outside of Buffalo. Here are a couple of older reviews I have done of his recordings over the years. The first review appeared in the April 1994 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 190) while the second one appeared in July/August 1997 (Issue 223) issue.

The Complete Plantation Recordings 

If Muddy Waters had never made it to Chicago, and was simply some person who had only recorded for Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress, he would still be regarded as one of the great delta blues musicians. MCA/Chess’ The Complete Plantation Recordings makes available all the extant Library of Congress recordings, including 4 interview segments.

Whether magnificent solo blues like the two versions of Country Blues adapted from Walking Blues, I Be’s Troubled, the spiritual You Got to Take Sick and Die Some of These Days, Ramblin’ Kid Blues with the Son Sims Four or You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone, these performances are significant not simply as a harbinger of his Chess recordings, but as among the greatest country blues recordings.

The mastering of rough source material is as good as one can get, and while some may fine this noisy, it is unreservedly recommended.

Paris 1972

A part of Norman Granz’ Jazz at the Philharmonic Series of recordings (that includes albums by Ray Charles and Cannonball Adderley) Paris 1972 (Pablo) is a valuable new live recording of Muddy Waters from a quarter-century past. He’s with his then working band of Pinetop Perkins/piano, Mojo Buford/harp, Calvin Jones/bass, Willie Smith/drums and Louis Myers on guitar, filling in for then ailing Sammy Lawhorn, and relegating himself to a mostly supporting role.

This is a “what you see is what you get” sort of recording. Muddy sounds in good form, singing robustly and plays a fair amount of slide guitar , Pinetop Perkins shows what a fine backing pianist he is, and even Mojo Buford, not my favorite of Waters’ harp players, acquits himself well on his steady, if unspectacular accompaniments. The material should be fairly familiar, with Clouds in My Heart, Hootchie Cootchie Man, Blow Wind Blow, Honey Bee, Walkin’ Blues and Got My Mojo Workin’.

Produced in cooperation with the Waters’ estate, this is a lively, highly entertaining addition to Waters’ discography.

Now here is  Muddy a few years later after Bob Margolin and Luther 'Guitar Jr. Johnson joined the band and the great Clark Terry sitting in.

No comments: