This entry into MCA's Chess 50th Anniversary Collection now officially takes the place of The Best of Muddy Waters as an essential first purchase in building a Muddy Waters collection. All 12 songs that comprise the budget-priced The Best of Muddy Waters are aboard, with eight more essential goodies from his first period of creativity, including great early ones like "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "Train Fare Blues," and "I Feel Like Going Home." The one ringer that keeps this collection from being a deluxe The Best of Muddy Waters is an alternate take of "Hoochie Coochie Man" in place of the original issued master, a production error of the highest order. It's a radically different-sounding one, too, with some surprisingly sloppy unthought-out harp work from Little Walter (at one point he simply stops playing), but with a far more intense vocal from Muddy than the issued version. But it is the issued version that by rights should have been the one heard here, as this is supposed to be a true best-of compilation. That niggling point aside, this collection (part of a two-volume best-of retrospective, the second covering the years 1956 to 1964) sports far superior sound and excellent liner notes.
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AllMusic Review by Cub Koda