Muddy Waters

Breakin' It Up & Breakin' It Down

  • AllMusic Rating
    7
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

In March 1977, Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, and James Cotton did a concert tour together in support of Waters' then-recent Hard Again LP, on which Winter had played guitar (as well as produced) and Cotton had played harmonica. This CD, not released until about 30 years later, has an hour of music drawn from three different shows on the tour. It might have been spurred by a Muddy Waters album, but in fact Waters, Winter, and Cotton all took vocals -- sometimes alone, and sometimes on the same song -- on stage, and these 11 songs feature the vocals of each of the three in about equal measure. Often these kind of touring combinations are too many cooks in the kitchen, or, if not quite that, at least more fun to attend than to listen to on tape. The latter could be said of the material on this disc, which is really just okay, not great, and not even among the best recordings that have been issued of Waters in the mid-'70s. It's still solid and decent, including some Waters classics ("Can't Be Satisfied," "Got My Mojo Workin'," "Trouble No More"), Cotton originals, and covers of staples by Jackie Brenston ("Rocket 88"), John Lee Hooker ("I Done Got Over It"), J.B. Lenoir ("Mama Talk to Your Daughter"), Lowell Fulson ("Love Her with a Feeling"), and Elmore James ("Dust My Broom"), as well as the famed jump blues "Caledonia." It's undeniable, however, that Waters was, even at this relatively advanced age, by far the most commanding singer of the trio. The songs on which his vocals are prominent (especially "Can't Be Satisfied" and "Trouble No More") kind of dwarf the ones on which his singing is absent or secondary, making the cuts that emphasize Cotton and Winter seem rather workmanlike in comparison. Nevertheless, the sound is good, and the band filled out competently with sidemen (particularly Pinetop Perkins on piano), making this a satisfactory listen for serious blues collectors, though a little superfluous for most fans.

blue highlight denotes track pick