Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live
First Appeared at The Music Box, November 2003, Volume 10, #11
Written by John Metzger
In 1948, Muddy Waters plugged in his electric guitar at a recording session for Chess Records and changed the sound of the blues forever. It was somewhat of an afterthought, but the two songs that he cut that day (Can’t Be Satisfied and Feel Like Going Home) yielded his first big single and gave him a national presence.
Thirty years later, Waters was a legend in the realms of both rock ’n‘ roll and the blues. Without him, there would be no Bo Diddley, B.B. King, or Otis Rush nor would there be a Rolling Stones, a Jimi Hendrix, a Led Zeppelin, or a Johnny Winter. When Waters signed with the Blue Sky label, Winter (who also was under contract with the CBS Records-owned subsidiary) helped him to mount a comeback and began producing his albums, including Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live. The 7-song collection was recorded in 1978 at a pair of shows in Cary, Illinois as well as during a March 1977 appearance in Detroit, Michigan. Although it wasn’t the finest compilation of Waters’ material, it was good enough to win him his sixth and final Grammy Award.
Recently, Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live was remastered and expanded into a two-disc set — the first featuring the original album and the second highlighting an hour’s worth of previously unreleased tracks from the Cary, Illinois concerts. Songs such as Mannish Boy and Baby Please Don’t Go still sound lackluster in comparison to other versions recorded by Waters over the years. On the other hand, She’s Nineteen Years Old and Deep Down in Florida are full of raw power, exuding the intense passion he had for singing the blues.
Regardless of whether one finds the original album inessential or vital — and there are those who fall on both sides of this issue — the bonus material that has been added to the expanded edition makes Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live a stronger outing. The slow-burning groove of She Moves Me is the finest thing on either of the discs as Waters rips through the song with his searing slide guitar. Elsewhere, harp player Jerry Portnoy flavors both Trouble No More and Mad Love (I Want You to Love Me) with a fluid, textured performance that pairs perfectly with Waters’ powerful vocals, and Got My Mojo Working gallops along a brisk pace while Kansas City is executed in exactly the opposite manner, given instead an expansive treatment that is brimming with elation.
Shortly after the release of Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live, the bluesman began to experience health problems. Though he recorded another album and spent several more years on the road, his strength clearly had begun to fade. Recently, a wealth of tapes from his collaborations with Winter were discovered, and these feature a variety of studio out-takes as well as live performances. In other words, the reissue of Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live is only the beginning of the material from this era that will soon see the light of day, and that is a good thing, indeed.
Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live [Original Album] —
Bonus Materials —
Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live [Deluxe Edition] — ˝
Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live [Deluxe Edition] is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box