Muddy Waters

1941-1947

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While the Chess/MCA reissue of The Complete Plantation Recordings of Muddy Waters focuses upon the 1941 and 1942 sessions, including alternate takes and spoken interviews, the Classics Blues & Rhythm Series presents only the master takes and follows McKinley Morganfield to Chicago where he made four sides in 1946 and teamed up with Sunnyland Slim in 1947. Muddy's first three records are amazing. His way of pulling the guitar strings and singing out of his heart is hypnotic, particularly on the straightforward "I Be's Troubled." In the company of guitarist Percy Thomas, mandolin man Louis Ford, and violinist Son Simms, Muddy shares vocals with everyone except the fiddler. This band, probably because of the mandolin, feels at times almost like the grandchild of the Memphis Jug Band. At the same session McKinley Morganfield cut four sides backed only by two other guitars. His recording itinerary as listed in the enclosed discography has him recording in both Stovall and Clarksdale, MS, over the span of several days. The Clarksdale material focuses once again on the man's sound when unaccompanied by anyone else. Muddy touches upon turf similar to that of Blind Gary Davis with "You Got to Take Sick and Die Some of These Days" and "Why Don't You Live So God Can Use You." Some of this feels like Ritual, the human function described by Anthony Braxton as "the highest function." The effect of these chronologically arranged recordings is that of a steady progression, beginning literally on the plantation and ending up in the big city where the music grew stronger, got tougher, and became something downright formidable. Akin to the undiluted blues of Tampa Red and Maceo Merriweather, Muddy's 1946 recordings have a potency all their own. By the time he made those two sides for Aladdin in 1947 with the great pianist Sunnyland Slim, bassist Ernest "Big" Crawford, and a drummer whose name has since been forgotten, Muddy Waters was in business. This CD chronicles the beginning of Muddy's recording career. You need it.

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