Muddy Waters – Hard Again (1978)

AllMusic Review: After a string of mediocre albums throughout most of the 1970s, Muddy Waters hooked up with Johnny Winter for 1977’s Hard Again, a startling comeback and a gritty demonstration of the master’s powers. Fronting a band that includes such luminaries as James Cotton and “Pine Top” Perkins, Waters is not only at the top of his game, but is having the time of his life while he’s at it. The bits of studio chatter that close “Mannish Boy” and open “Bus Driver” show him to be relaxed and obviously excited about the proceedings. Part of this has to be because the record sounds so good. Winter has gone for an extremely bare production style, clearly aiming to capture Waters in conversation with a band in what sounds like a single studio room. This means that sometimes the songs threaten to explode in chaos as two or three musicians begin soloing simultaneously. Such messiness is actually perfect in keeping with the raw nature of this music; you simply couldn’t have it any other way. There is something so incredibly gratifying about hearing Waters shout out for different soloists, about the band missing hits or messing with the tempos. Hey this isn’t pop music, it’s the blues, and a little dirt never hurt anybody. The unsung star of this session is drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, whose deep grooves make this record come alive. The five-minute, one-chord “Mannish Boy” wouldn’t be nearly as compelling as it is if it weren’t for Smith’s colossal pocket. Great blues from one of the dominant voices of the genre. — Daniel Gioffre

Track Listing

All tracks are composed by Muddy Waters (listed as McKinley Morganfield), except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Mannish Boy” Morganfield, Ellas McDaniel, Mel London 5:23
2. “Bus Driver” Morganfield, Terry Abrahamson 7:44
3. “I Want to Be Loved” Willie Dixon 2:20
4. “Jealous Hearted Man” 4:23
5. “I Can’t Be Satisfied” 3:28
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “The Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock and Roll, Pt. 2” Morganfield, Brownie McGhee 3:35
2. “Deep Down in Florida” 5:25
3. “Crosseyed Cat” 5:59
4. “Little Girl” 7:06

 

 

Schill Score:  9.5/10

 

 

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Muddy Waters – Muddy Waters At Newport (1960)

At Newport 1960 is a live album by Muddy Waters recorded during his performance at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 3, 1960. With his longtime backup band, Muddy Waters plays a mix of his older popular tunes and some newer compositions.

Chess Records released the album in the United States in December 1960. In 2001, it issued a remastered version with an additional three tracks recorded in Chicago in June 1960.

At Newport 1960 is sometimes referred to as the first live blues album and has received critical acclaim. Rolling Stone magazine have included it at number 348 on its list of “500 Greatest Albums of all Time”.

Track Listing:

“I Got My Brand on You” (Willie Dixon) – 4:24
“I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” (Dixon) – 2:50
“Baby, Please Don’t Go” (McKinley Morganfield) – 2:52
“Soon Forgotten” (James Oden) – 4:08
“Tiger in Your Tank” (Dixon) – 4:12
“I Feel So Good” (Big Bill Broonzy) – 2:48
“Got My Mojo Working” (Preston Foster) – 4:08
“Got My Mojo Working, Part 2” (Foster) – 2:38
“Goodbye Newport Blues” (Langston Hughes, Morganfield) – 4:38

Review: The cover photograph of Muddy Waters holding John Lee Hooker’s guitar gave the impression that he was at a folk festival rather than the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival. However, the record revealed the King of Chicago blues at his very best, shouting his music above the discordant wail of a band that included Otis Spann, James Cotton, Pat Hare, and Francis Clay. Film of the event shows a sharply dressed Waters shimmying and jiving around the stage with the energy of a man half his age. Some of that atmosphere is apparent on the record, in a program that includes “Hoochie Coochie Man,” Big Bill Broonzy’s “I Feel So Good,” then-recent singles “I Got My Brand on You” and “Soon Forgotten,” and a massive “Got My Mojo Working.” The set ends in poignant mood with the announcement of the end of the festival and Otis Spann’s improvised “Goodbye Newport Blues.” — Rovi Staff

Schill Score: 8.5/10

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