Muddy Waters - Hard Again

Muddy Waters
Hard Again

(Epic/Blue Sky/Legacy)

First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2004, Volume 11, #7

Written by John Metzger


In 1976, after spending nearly 30 years in the music business, Muddy Waters broke with his long-time label Chess Records to sign with Blue Sky, a subsidiary of Columbia. Hard Again, his first outing for the company, was produced by Johnny Winter, and it is considered by many to be the finest studio effort of Watersí distinguished career. Itís an understandable conclusion, of course, given the raw edginess of the performances as well as the blues legendís own rejuvenated intensity, both of which were undoubtedly due, at least in part, to the fact that the sessions spanned a mere three days. Still, it also is a somewhat strange notion since this premier blues guitarist contributed only his voice to the album.

Backed by an all-star band that featured harp player James Cotton, pianist Pinetop Perkins, drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, guitarists Bob Margolin and Johnny Winter, and bass player Charles Calmese, Waters appeared relaxed from the outset, and the inclusion of some of the exuberant studio chatter gave Hard Again a fascinating sense of intimacy. Whether stomping through a thunderous update of Mannish Boy, tearing into the acoustic groove of I Canít Be Satisfied, or slipping into the slow-burning strains of Deep Down in Florida, the ensemble was on fire, and as a result, Waters not only regained his momentum but also built upon his remarkable legacy. Recently remastered, Hard Again sparkles with a renewed sense of warmth and clarity, and its lone bonus track (a remake of Walking through the Park) is as stunning as the rest of the material. starstarstarstarstar



Of Further Interest...

Larry McCray - Born to Play the Blues

Muddy Waters - I'm Ready

Johnny Winter - Second Winter: Legacy Edition


Hard Again is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2005 The Music Box