Rollin' & Tumblin' : Muddy Waters- part Two©2008JCMarion


In February of 1957, Muddy Waters records a third signature tune, one that will become his best known song - "Got My Mojo Working" released by Chess on # 1652. The flip side is "Rock Me". Initially "Rock Me" gets more attention, but by April "Mojo" is the big side with Muddy doing a cover version of the original by Ann Cole on Baton. In June Muddy and Little Walter again join forces for a tour of one nighters in the South. In August Muddy Waters keeps the music coming with "Good News" and "Come Home Baby". His band now consists of Pat Hare-guitar; Marcus Johnson-tenor sax; James Cotton-harmonica; Otis Spann-piano; Willie Dixon-bass; and Francey Clay-drums. "News" is a good seller in Memphis and Little Rock and other parts of the Mid-South. Muddy tours on for a series of shows in the Midwest and then Eastern states at year's end. In December "Evil" and "I Live The Life I Love" on Chess # 1680 is released.

In 1958 "I Won't Go" and "She's Got It" on Chess # 1692 starts out the year for Muddy Waters a recording veteran of seventeen years. In April Chess releases the first LP album called "The Best Of Muddy Waters". By June "She's Got It" is a top R & B seller in Atlanta. There is talk in the trade press about Muddy going over to Atlantic Records for a special recording project but nothing is finalized. In September Muddy Waters and many in the blues community attend the funeral of blues giant Big Bill Broonzy. Later that month Muddy heads for England where he will make a number of appearances backed by Chris Barber's band. "She's Ninteen Years Old" and "Close To You" is issued by Chess on # 1704. "Close To You" is one of the top ten sellers in St. Louis at the end of the year. "Mean Mistreater" and "Walking Through The Park" in early 1959 released on Chess # 1718 featured Andrew Stephens on bass replacing Willie Dixon. Even with the huge takeover of R & B music by pop oriented teen idols, Muddy Waters still can sell records as "Walking Through The Park" is a top ten R & B seller in St. Louis and is also doing well in Kansas City. In April "Clouds In My Heart" and "Ooh Wee" is out on #1724. This is followed by "Take The Bitter With The Sweet" and "She's Into Something" on # 1733. In October Muddy and his band are readying another trip to England where they were a success once before. That month "Recipe For Love" and "Dream On" is released by Chess on # 1739 which is followed by "I Feel So Good" and "When I Get To Thinking" on # 1748. The realization had set in that young Black listeners were turning their backs on the sound of the Southern blues and moving toward soul and Motown for their musical inspiration.

By the beginning of the sixties, Muddy Waters had been a blues recording artist for two decades and was now finding another new audience. "I'm Your Doctor" and "Way Back" is released on Chess # 1752, and "Recipe For Love" and "Love Affair" on # 1758. He began to feature shows geared toward a more mature crowd, realizing that the teenage rock 'n rollers were not interested in his music much, but that a move toward American roots music led by the folk music boom . Chess released # 1765 - "Tiger In Your Tank" and "Meanest Woman". In the first year of the new decade he performed at Carnegie Hall in April, and in July appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival. His band consists of Pat Hare on guitar, James Cotton on harmonica, Otis Spann on piano, Andrew Stephens on bass, and Francey Clay on drums. The incredible set was recorded by Chess and issued on an original LP # 1449, and later re-issued on Argo and still today is available on a Chess cd. Thirty eight years later the recording has lost none of its intensity or blues power and stands as a landmark recording in American musical history. "I Got My Brand On You", "Baby Please Don't Go" and "Soon Forgotten" are unforgettable songs from this event. In 1961 Muddy's band included J.T. Brown and Boyd Atkins on tenor saxes, Otis Spann on piano, Matt Murphy on guitar, Milt Rector on bass, and Al Duncan on drums. The following year Muddy Waters recorded "Going Home" and "Tough Times" on # 1819 and "You Shook Me" and the inconveniently named "Muddy Waters Twist" on # 1827. The band at this time included John Walker on keyboards, Earl Hooker on guitar, Willie Dixon back on bass, and Casey Jones on drums. Luther Tucker took over on guitar and Willie Smith on drums for "Five Long Years" and "Twenty Four Hours" on Chess # 1862. "The Same Thing" and "You Can't Lose What You Never Had" on # 1895, "Put Me In Your Layaway" on # 1921, and "My Dog Can't Bark" and "I Got A Rich Man's Woman" on # 1937 were the last of the Chess singles through 1965.

Muddy Waters seemed to fade to the background as modern rock took hold and the British Invasion swamped everything musically. However a lot of the English bands listed Muddy and other blues and R & B performers as their main influence and led a lot of American fans to find out about these artists. One of the best and biggest bands ever took their very name from the Muddy Waters tune "Rolling Stone". Muddy even was given a radio show in Chicago to expound on the blues. A late sixties set with some young rockers called "Fathers And Sons" was a big seller and an influential recording. Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, Buddy Miles, and others joined Muddy on the live set called the "Cosmic Joy Scout Jamboree" held in Chicago. He also performed at The Electric Circus in New York City with young harmonica whiz Paul Oscher. Muddy Waters, now booked as a "living legend" of the blues, toured college campuses, and played many folk and blues festivals in the U.S. and Europe. Chess tried every type of setting for Muddy-folk blues, psychedelic backup, and soul singing. All had the result of diluting his talent and leading to poor sales. In late 1969 Muddy was involved in a serious auto accident that laid him up for months. In 1970 he toured with new piano player Pinetop Perkins who replaced the late Otis Spann. In 1971 a compilation LP from Chess called "They Call Me Muddy Waters" which won a Grammy award. He received a second Grammy for the album "The London Sessions" and was the headline attraction at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

By the mid seventies, Muddy Waters recorded his final songs for Chess with the LP "The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album" which was also a Grammy award winner. His music had seemed to have lost much of the style and power of his earlier work until Texas guitar legend Johnny Winter got together with Muddy at a taping for the PBS musical program "Soundstage". Johnny Winter then set up Muddy at Blue Sky Records for a recording session getting Muddy to go back to playing slide guitar. The result was "Hard Again", an album that recaptured the early fifties sound of the band. This was followed by the albums "I'm Ready", "Muddy 'Mississippi' Waters Live", and "King Bee". All were well received and were good sellers and led to a number of bookings across the country and overseas in Europe and Japan. Muddy Waters final appearance was on stage with Eric Clapton. He passed away in April of 1983 at the age of 68.

There exists a virtual treasure trove of Muddy Waters recordings and live performances that have been saved for posterity unlike so many other worthy performers of this most American of art forms. The wealth of material is a testament to the vital importance that his talent is held to, and we are rewarded because of its existence. As always when there is a lot of material involved, a great deal of duplication is here. This listing contains only a partial number of sources that exist. The presentations that are unique and representative of Muddy Waters music are included, but the reader is reminded of the availability of many more products.

First of all, there are three video dvds that give the viewer a good look at the power of the music and the in person character of the artist. "Classic Concerts" from Hip-O has video of the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival appearance, as well as excerpts from the Norway Jazz Fest in 1967 and Copenhagen in 1968. "Got My Mojo Working" from Yazoo in 2000 are videos from German TV in the late 60s through the mid 70s. The final dvd is "Live In Oregon - 1970" from Alpha Centauri, newly released in 2007.

On the audio cd format, the available recordings cover the career of Muddy Waters in chronological order. From Chess in 1993 is "The Complete Plantation Recordings" with 22 tracks from the Library of Congress recordings by Alan Lomax and John Work of Fisk University. Covering some of the same territory is "First Recording Sessions - 1941-46" from Document in 2005 including Muddy's first studio recordings. "His Best" from Chess in 1997 covers 1947 through 1955 with 20 tracks documenting Muddy at the top of his talent. For a more completist look at these years Hip-O has "The Complete Chess Masters - Vol 1 : 1947-1951", and "Vol 2 : 1952-1958" which may be harder to find in print. Further expanding this area to a wider historical perspective is "The Anthology" from Chess in 2001 with a double cd set that covers the years 1947 through 1972, most of his long stay with that label. And then there is "The Chess Box-Muddy Waters" a three cd set from 1989 containing 72 tracks. A remastered cd version of "Live At Newport 1960" from Chess in 2001 is a must, as is a remastered "Fathers And Sons" from 1969 including the live set from Chess. Three other live recordings are also worthy of anyone interested in the mastery of the blues by Muddy Waters. "All Night Long : Live" from Sarabande in 2005 is from the mid sixties to late seventies with eleven tracks. "Paris 1972" from Pablo in 1997 contains 11 tracks, and "Mojo : The Best Of Muddy Waters Live" on Music Club in 2000 contains live cuts from 1971 and 1976 on 14 tracks. Other recent additions are "The Definitive Collection" on Geffen from 2006 with 24 tracks; "Rare And Unissued" from MCA a remastered 1984 LP with 14 tracks; "Hard Again" a remastered Blue Sky LP on Sony from 2004 with ten tracks; the more interesting "Collection" from Sony with the three Blue Sky studio LPs ("Hard Again", "I'm Ready", and "King Bee"); and two more live cds - "The Lost Tapes" from Blind Pig, and "Breaking It Up And Beaking It Down" from Sony in 2007 with James Cotton and Johnny Winter from original Blue Sky tapes.

Muddy Waters and his music - perhaps the definitive statement on American roots music that is the fountainhead of all that is heard today, everywhere in the world. What else is there to say ?

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