The resurgence of Chicago-based blues in the mid- to late 1960s came with an entirely new breed of icons to bear the torch. Among them was the decidedly electric Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Joining Muddy Waters (guitar/vocals) and Otis Spann (piano) on the aptly titled Fathers and Sons are three Butterfield Blues Band alumni: Michael Bloomfield (guitar), Sam Lay (drums), and leader Paul Butterfield (guitar). Further augmenting the personnel is Booker T. & the MG's Donald "Duck" Dunn (bass) and Buddy Miles (drums) -- who cameos during the live "Got My Mojo Workin'" finale. This all-star cast helps reclaim some of Waters' fire, which had been summarily doused on his previous outing Electric Mud -- a tasteless pseudo-psychedelic disaster. The poorly executed scheme had been designed to introduce Waters' music to a younger and mostly white audience. In essence, Fathers and Sons is able to accomplish with musical integrity what Electric Mud couldn't through gimmickry. Additionally, the incorporation of the younger generation of bluesmen solidified Waters' stature as one of the pre-eminent forces in Chicago blues to a decidedly fresh and underdeveloped audience. The LP is split between studio sides cut on April 21-23 and a half-hour live set. This performance, during the Super Cosmic Joy-Scout Jamboree, was documented on the evening following the final day of studio recording. The event was held at Auditorium Theater in (where else?) Chicago. Simplifying the process is Fathers and Sons set list, which consists exclusively of vintage Waters material. "Mean Disposition" and "Standin' Round Cryin'" drip with Bloomfield and Butterfield's nasty languid electric funk, and feature Waters' determined and energized vocals. On the uptempo blues/rockers "Walking Thru the Park" and "Sugar Sweet," the nimble and lyrical guitar passages meld the distance between Waters and the electric blues of Cream and Led Zeppelin. Without question, the highlight of Fathers and Sons is the live performances that are incessantly fueled by the explosive nature of the musicians on-stage as well as the audience. "Long Distance Call" and the two-part "Got My Mojo Working" are the finest pieces on the album. They likewise rate among the most complementary marriages of Chicago R&B with rock & roll. Of Muddy Waters' later recordings, it certainly got no better than the summit meeting heard on Fathers and Sons. Fans of Waters' true and natural showmanship, as well as enthusiasts of blues-based rock & roll, will find plenty to revisit.
Fathers and Sons Review
by Lindsay Planer