Recorded in January of 1977 at Montreal’s legendary Rising Sun Celebrity Jazz Club, the record features some of Muddy’s greatest bandmates, including Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson and “Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin on guitar, Jerry Portnoy on harmonica, Pinetop Perkins on piano, along with Calvin Jones on bass and Willie Smith on drums. The band are terrific throughout which is why it is no surprise that they, like many others, went on to have outside recognition after playing with Muddy’s band. The standout track is an 11 minute version of the classic, “Kansas City,” in which Muddy shares vocals with Perkins.
Chicago was the city blues made its home - and Chess Records was the imprint on which so many seminal recordings emerged. Brothers Leonard and Phil Chess were not from the deep South, from where the likes of Howlin' Wolf had travelled to this musical hotbed, but of Polish immigrant stock. The eponumous record label they founded would prove a driving force in the rise of the blues in the Fifties.
Electric Mud is the fifth studio album by Muddy Waters, with Rotary Connection serving as his backing band. Released in 1968, it imagines Muddy Waters as a psychedelic musician. Producer Marshall Chess suggested that Muddy Waters record experimental, psychedelic blues tracks with members of Rotary Connection in an attempt to revive the blues singer's career. The album peaked at #127 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. It was controversial for its fusion of electric blues with psychedelic elements, but was influential on psychedelic rock bands of the era…
One of the best recordings in Chess Records' 50th Anniverary series is the first of two bookend Muddy Waters collections, His Best 1947-55. Documenting Waters's most creatively and commercially successful years at Aristocrat/Chess, this collection begins with his formative years and ends with Waters at his peak. So you're in for a lot of terrific bottleneck slide guitar work as well as electric Chicago blues; what's to criticize? Superb remasterings of "I Can't Be Satisfied", "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "I'm Ready", and "Mannish Boy" are simply beyond reproach. With simple bass accompaniment from Ernest "Big" Crawford, Waters's bottleneck tracks are spare, haunting and, quite frankly, perfect country blues. And listening to Waters, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, and Jimmy Rogers piece together (and perfect very quickly) the classic Chicago sound is pure blues epiphany. At the very least, this collection shows you why Waters's rollicking stop-time classics like "Mannish Boy" and "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" have sparked endless imitations over the years–and why nobody has played them better since.