Muddy Waters

King of the Electric Blues

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The first 20-bit remastering of any of Muddy's late career work for Johnny Winter's Blue Sky label is of considerable interest. The fact that, in the wake of the earlier Blues Sky best-of disc, there's enough material to do another 60-minute-plus collection, also speaks well for this catalog. The clarity of the Super Bit Mapping audio brings out a sharpness in these recordings that the original vinyl and CD issues barely hinted at. The stuff is finally mastered at the volume it always should have been (this is a potential lease-breaker) and more than justifies the purchase. The music isn't as viscerally exciting as Muddy's work for Chess -- he's slower, starts at a lower energy level, and takes his time building up intensity, but the climaxes are majestic. The playing is also as solid as ever, and Muddy still had a considerable amount to say musically. Blues Sky still has the edge for songs, although the producers here have wisely included Muddy's covers of songs that he liked by John Lee (Sonny Boy) Williamson, Arthur Crudup, and Big Joe Williams, in addition to some of his own tunes.

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