(Note: this video was previously mentioned in a review of the companion Top Cat CD (LIVE 1971). Then it was only available by direct mail, now it's commercially available, so it's revisited here.)
Just when it seemed that all the Muddy Waters footage ever shot has been issued, some lost tapes have turned up. This batch comes from a 1971 R&B tour that featured Muddy along with Big Mama Thorton, Joe Turner, J B Hutto, Bee Houston & George "Harmonica" Smith. The tour did several dates in Washington and Oregon. It took place a couple years after Muddys auto accident, and a year past Otis Spanns death. His band then was southside players like pianist Pinetop Perkins, drummer Willie Big Eyes Smith, and guitarists Pee Wee Madison and Sammy Lawhorn. George Smith did his own spot on the bill, than blew on Muddys sets as well, filling a position he'd held several times before, though he hadn't appeared on any of Muddys earlier hit records.
Link Wyler, Big Mamas manager, talked a beer company into backing the tour, which was taped and filmed with the idea of doing a "Blues Woodstock" kind of release. When the deal fell thru the tapes wound up in Wylers closet until last year when TopCat Records out of Dallas got hold of them and put together a CD, and this video, The video comes
from one of the two shows recorded, at the University of Oregon on Oct. 20th. Muddy is in superb voice here and the band does a good job of recreating his fifties ensemble sound. Muddy plays a lot of guitar, including slide on several numbers, sounding particularly slashing and
funkier than the exaggerated "psychedelic" technique he used in later years. Muddy runs down his standards including "Long Distance Call", "Hoochie Coochie Man" and a sly "She's Nineteen Years Old" before closing with a rocking "Got My Mojo Working". All the players get chances to do two chorus rides now and then--and tho George Smith is listed as "featured" he only takes solos on a little over half the numbers.
The video, 40 minutes long, is excellent quality, it was originally a 16 mm color multiple camera shoot--so you don't miss too many shots of soloists. Muddy is playing his trademark red Telecaster on most numbers, standing rather than sitting on a stool, and looks regally energetic
throughout. The video begins with a 4 minute interview done in the back of a limo while Big Mama looks on--the interviewer makes much of the fact that Muddy reveals his real name as McKinley Morganfield, hardly a secret, even then. On the whole, this is some good mainstream Muddy and one of the more interesting concert videos on him.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Tony Glover, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.