Muddy Waters

They Call Me Muddy Waters [Music Avenue]

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Usually, compilations like this, budget items with cheesy artwork and few notes, are a real drag to listen to. Not so this Music Avenue issue of Chess material by Muddy Waters, They Call Me Muddy Waters. Spanning two discs, there are no less than 41 cuts. Disc one features 25 studio cuts from the early to late 1950s and early '60s. Among them are stellar performances of "I Just Want to Make Love to You," "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man" (in a session produced by the tune's author Willie Dixon), "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "Rollin' Stone," "Howlin' Wolf," and many more. The live session comes from a number of live sources, but while sound quality may very a bit -- generally it is quite good -- the performances are top-notch with crack bands and full of sparking energy. The best cuts are "Got My Mojo Workin'," a sallow, burning "Screamin' and Cryin'," and a smoking read of "Caldonia." For anyone interested in Waters' music -- and not his story -- and on a budget, this collection would be a decent place to start.

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