Muddy Waters

Messin' with the Blues

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Muddy Waters had to wait until he was 15 years into professional music before he got his first LP released -- by contrast, 20-some years after his death comes what is about the fifth or sixth DVD devoted to his work. As with most of the others, Messin' With the Blues dates from the last decade of Muddy's career, although it predates those final tours associated with his recording for Johnny Winter's Blue Sky imprint. It also is more of a complete show than some of the other releases, including two songs each by Junior Wells and Buddy Guy ahead of Muddy's four songs. Captured live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the disc offers gorgeous, exciting, lively visuals and state-of-the-art sound that is genuinely loud. The backing band includes Bill Wyman, Pinetop Perkins, and Dallas Taylor. The opening sets are good enough to justify the price of this disc, with Wells in top form as a singer and Guy's guitar slashing and cutting. But when Muddy arrives on-stage, it's like the performance moves to a whole new, more intense level. This was Muddy with a lot of fire from his younger days still burning; he scarcely filled the role of elder statesman at this point, and looks and sounds as virile as all get-out. The disc also contains a pair of bonus features. There's a rambling interview with Buddy Guy by Bill Wyman, in which the blues legend recalls his past, using personal anecdotes and his origins to explain his relationship to the blues; warm recollections of working with Muddy are intercut with relevant clips from the Montreux festival to illustrate Guy's points. Muddy's son, Big Bill Morganfield, also gets an interview segment in which he and Wyman cheerfully discuss the blues and Morganfield's father, personally as well as musically, and Morganfield emulates his father's style on guitar. The disc opens up automatically to a user-friendly menu that never gets past a second layer in offering its choices.

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