Electric Mud anyone? Austria's Wolf Records has just released a sample of Muddy Water's live in the early 80s, and he's in fine form. This CD brings us Muddy with his regular working band: Pinetop Perkins (piano), Luther Johnson and Bob Margolin (guitars), Jerry Portnoy (Harmonica), Calvin "Fuzz" Jones (bass) and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith (drums). This band sounds perfect. What else would expect from the best band in blues during that time?
Muddy often complained that the younger musicians couldn't play the "Deep Blues," but this ensemble is a noteworthy exception. Portnoy and Margolin prove why they were hired by Muddy, and why they have staked their reputations on being a part of this band. They sound great. The ever-reliable rhythm section of Perkins, Jones and Smith provide a propulsive backdrop for Muddy to sing and play on, but they never get in the way.
The focus is on Muddy Waters, and he is in fine form on this date. Singing in his trademark baritone and coloring his vocal phrases as only a master can. His guitar playing is strong as well.
If you're new to Muddy Waters, don't start here. Pick up any of his "best of" compilations available from MCA/Chess. If you're a long-time Muddy Waters fan, and you want a snap shot of his working band from the 70s and 80s, this is as good a recording as I have heard. The musicianship is first rate and the (presumably) European audience is appreciate and unobtrusive during this mellow set. "Honey Bee" is strongly recommended to Muddy Waters completists. Unfortunately, Wolf Records provides their usual paltry liner notes and don't tell us when or where this recording took place. Perhaps they have more info on their web site: http://www.wolfrec.com
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