Muddy Waters

The Essential Collection

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This mid-priced Muddy Waters compilation from England is comprised of 20 songs,17 of them dating between 1950 and 1958 and the other three from 1968 and 1972, arranged in no particular order. The selection opens with "Got My Mojo Working" in its original studio version and covers most of the obvious bases, including many of Muddy's best-known originals and his classic renditions of Willie Dixon compositions, but somehow missing out on "I Can't Be Satisfied" and "Rollin' and Tumblin'" in favor of "Garbage Man" from 1972 (a better case can be made for "Can't Get No Grindin'"). It's difficult to say what makes this collection "essential" -- one supposes that the producers wanted to emphasize the fact that Muddy was still making important music that late, but given that the notes focus on songs that were later staples of the British Invasion, the choices are odd. One can't criticize any Muddy Waters compilation too harshly, but the main virtue of this disc, along with its price, is that it utilizes the latest and best quality masterings of those classic Chess sides, and does throw an interesting (if inessential) curve ball or two at the listener.

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