Muddy Waters

Chicago Blues Masters, Vol. 1

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This album chronicles a 1959 Carnegie Hall bill shared between Muddy and Slim. In retrospect, it might be seen as something of a warm-up for Muddy, who would soon wow the world with the 1960 performance captured on his NEWPORT album. Muddy's style was much more primal and sensual than the more urbane, slightly Charles Brown-like sound of Peter Chatman (AKA Memphis Slim), but the two blues giants accompany each other here with sensitivity and taste. Slim dominates the proceedings, with 13 cuts to Muddy's four, and his sophisticated vocal and piano stylings are a joy to the ear. Conversely, Muddy's tunes lack the punch his customary sidemen gave them (he's backed by Al Hall and Shep Sheppard). Nevertheless, the singer was in his prime at this time, and it was seemingly impossible for him to come across as anything less than commanding. This disc is recommended chiefly to Memphis Slim fans, but it also provides an interesting (if brief) glimpse into Muddy's late-'50s live work.

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