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Muddy Waters - Authorized Bootleg

PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:28 pm
by blueswriter
Muddy Waters
Authorized Bootleg
Geffen (2009) 12650-02

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15 tracks, 72 minutes. Highly recommended. From the opening notes of Forty Days And Forty Nights that kick off this rip-roaring ‘live’ disc, it becomes perfectly clear just how powerful Muddy Waters was. It’s also a brilliant showcase for his muscular band consisting of these now-legendary names; Luther “Georgia Boy” Johnson and Sammy Lawhorn (guitars), George Smith (harmonica), Mac Arnold (bass) and Francis Clay (drums). And although Muddy’s not listed as playing guitar on any of this material recorded over three nights at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium, there’s little doubt that his slide work is all over Honey Bee plus She Moves Me, Thirteen Highway and Long Distance Call, the three longest tracks on the CD. Muddy’s efforts as a bottleneck guitarist and singer were first immortalized when he recorded for the Library of Congress in 1941 and ‘42 while was working on the Stovall Plantation in Clarksdale, MS. Here, some twenty-five years later, his style had fully matured and his playing is simply stunning. It’s loud, rude, nasty and as tough as nails and he stretches out with chorus after chorus of riveting slide guitar, something he hadn’t been doing for a fair number of years on Chicago’s Chess label. And it’s not only Muddy’s guitar that cuts like a straight razor; his singing here is every bit as potent and intimidating. Smith tears off some full-toned harp solos across the disc, and the contributions of Johnson and Lawhorn are also heard to good effect while Arnold and Clay nail things down effortlessly. While there’s more than a small handful of Muddy Waters concert recordings on a dizzying number of labels across the globe, ’live’ material from this period of his career is in relatively short supply. And while it’s true that there are plenty of versions of Hoochie Coochie Man, Baby Please Don’t Go, Rock Me, Trouble No More and Got My Mojo Working available, it’s more than eye-opening to hear Waters and his band rip up the surroundings of the Fillmore in San Francisco in 1966. There’s only one thing keeping this review from an essential rating, and that’s the absence of Otis Spann’s piano. Even still, the Authorized Bootleg will stand tall as a blistering example of the king of Chicago Blues just a little past the halfway point in his long and outstanding career.

A word or so of warning: searching for this disc on the Geffen website proved to be a lesson in futility even though it's on their label. Typing in Muddy Waters Authorized Bootleg turned up absolutely nothing among a cluster of non-blues artists. It's almost like the old 'bait & switch' trick. A far better suggestion would be to head for your local music retailer or to make use of your favorite on-line source for this CD. If you're a glutton for punishment, please go to http://ilovethatsong.com/ and have yourself a good old-fashioned picnic.

© 2010 by Craig Ruskey