Sunday, October 20, 2013

Muddy Waters - Fathers and Sons

In the 60's, Muddy Waters endured several attempts by the Chess empire to "update" his sound for the then-burgeoning white blues audience - the notorious Electric Mud and Brass and the Blues being the two most misguided efforts. Here, though, they got it right!

On this record Muddy was teamed up with a man who accompanied him on many classic recordings, pianist Otis Spann, as well as acolytes Michael Bloomfield (guitar) and Paul Butterfield (harp) - both hailing from the Butterfield Blues Band and both had followed Waters in the early 60's - a then-highly-risky venture for young white men. Drummer Sam Lay had worked with both Waters' chief rival, Howlin' Wolf on some of his biggest hits, as well as the afore-mentioned BBB. On bass, they picked up non other than Donald "Duck" Dunn from Booker T & the M.G.'s, who had also worked with Albert King on his classic "Born Under a Bad Sign" album. There are a few other talents involved in the mix here - harpist Jeff Carp duets with Butterfield on "All Aboard", Buddy Miles sits in on part two of the live take on "Goy My Mojo Working", Paul Asbell plays rhythm guitar on a few tracks and Phil Upchurch sits in on bass on "All Aboard".

While this was meant to expand Muddy's inroads to the white audience, ironically the white players here do their best to imitate their African-American predecessors, which is what makes this so good! The songs all have a great sound and intensity while maintaining the integrity of the originals. Each player gets to show their chops and Muddy even pulls out his stingin' slide guitar again - something that he had set aside for all too long during the 60's and something that provides the numbers with a very distinctive feel. The set - not unlike his later Johnny Winter collaborations - incorporate some of his biggest hits with some lessor known - but still terrific - material.

Of course, I will always recommended his original work first, but this is a terrifically solid set of rockin' blues from one of the biggest giants ever to walk the earth! The CD includes previously unreleased bonus tracks and a booklet with extensive liner notes. Great job!