Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Muddy Waters - I'm Ready

After the run-away success of Hard Again, Johnny Winter again took Muddy into the studio for another back-to-the-basics blues album. Most of the same personnel as the previous record reappear but this time they add the amazing Jimmy Rogers on guitar and two harmonica players - Big Walter Horton from the old days and Jerry Portnoy from Muddy's then-current touring band. This record garnered Muddy another Grammy and strengthened his come-back - as if it needed it!

Again, Bob Margolin provides liner notes describing the sessions and the way that things came about, which is a cool insider's story. The sound, production, playing and set list is again terrific, with some tones sounding so original, you'd think it was from the 50's (check the guitar lines from "Who Do You Trust"!). The initial title track has Muddy as blustering and confident as ever, "33 Years" and "Who Do You Trust" both have plenty of classic blues licks (including some stinging slide from the man on the former and Winter on the latter). There's lots of groovy jams in "Copper Brown" and Winter gets a workout on the swingin' "Hootchie Cootchie Man". "Mamie" is a slow original with Waters on the slide again and "Rock Me" is as sexy and sultry as ever, followed by another smoldering "Screamin' and Cryin'" and the vinyl closer, the bouncin' "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl".

The CD gives us three extra cuts, "No Escape From the Blues" (in which Pinetop finally gets to show off a bit, along with the rest of the crew), Jimmy Rogers takes lead vocals for the first couple verses of the remake of his first big hit "That's Alright" before letting Muddy have a turn and then duetting on the ending, and then everything comes to a conclusion with a rockin' "Lonely Man Blues".

Hard Again is the essential come-back record, but this one is damn strong too - worth getting!