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The Chess Box :Muddy Waters
Genres: Blues, Pop
For the completist, this three-CD, 72-song box remains the definitive collection of one of the leading lights of Chicago blues. The collection spans 25 years, beginning with rare early recordings with pianist Sunnyland Sli... more »
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For the completist, this three-CD, 72-song box remains the definitive collection of one of the leading lights of Chicago blues. The collection spans 25 years, beginning with rare early recordings with pianist Sunnyland Slim and moving through Waters's peak '50s period, which offered the legendary support of Jimmy Rogers, Little Walter, and Otis Spann. Luminaries including Pat Hare, James Cotton, Earl Hooker, Buddy Guy, and Pinetop Perkins all make valuable contributions to his '60s work. Along with his original hits and his noteworthy Willie Dixon interpretations, Chess wisely includes his lesser-known covers of Big Bill Broonzy, Howlin' Wolf, Guitar Slim, Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, and Sonny Boy Williamson. --Marc Greilsamer
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The most complete overview of Muddy Waters' Chess sides
Docendo Discimus | Vita scholae | 04/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"More casual fans will probably be better served by MCA/Chess's much cheaper (but very good) two-disc compilation "The Anthology: 1947-1972". But if you're looking for the best and currently most thorough available overview of Muddy's recordings for Aristocrat and Chess, this is it.
It is not the final word on Muddy Waters - his excellent latter-day recordings with Johnny Winter as producer aren't here, and you'll need some of his live stuff as well - but these 72 tracks do include the vast majority of his best songs from 1947 and twenty-five years on.
Disc one spans 1947-1954, and most of the 24 tracks feature just Muddy Waters on slide guitar and bassist Ernest "Big" Crawford backing him, although the great Sunnyland Slim rolls the ivories on a few songs, like the delightful 1947 single "Gypsy Woman".
Muddy's arsenal of slide guitar riffs may seem limited, but his playing on the 1948 hit "I Can't Be Satisfied" and the mellow "Train Fare Home" is really great, demonstrating what a fine guitarist he actually was.
Percussion doesn't show up until two-thirds of the way through the disc, when the "classic" Muddy Waters band begins to take shape: Little Walter Jacobs on harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on second guitar, drummer Elgin Evans, and Otis Spann playing the piano.
Along with the songs already mentioned, the lean, mean "I Feel Like Going Home" and "Rollin' And Tumblin'" are among the highlights on disc 1, which ends with the tough, swinging "Blow Wind Blow" and the classic "Hoochie Coochie Man". Big Walter Horton plays superb harmonica on "Blow Wind Blow".
Disc 2 includes the majority of Muddy's classic 50s singles, from "I'm Ready" and the thumping "I Just Want To Make Love To You" to "Got My Mojo Working", the Bo Diddley-ripoff "Mannish Boy", and the superbly swinging "I Love The Life I Live, I Live The Life I Love". Harpist James Cotton appears for the first time on "I Love The Life I Live", blowing a truly inspired harmonica riff.
And there are several lesser-known songs here as well, including previously unreleased takes and singles which make their LP/CD debut on this album. Most of them are good, although not quite great, with the exception of a very fine rendition of Jimmy Oden's "Take The Bitter With The Sweet".
Disc 3 covers 1960-1972, and includes a few live recordings, as well as two alternates from the sublime "Fathers And Sons" sessions. Opening with the great live "I Feel So Good" from the Newport album, it is highlighted by Muddy's version of Eddie Boyd's "Twenty-Four Hours", the mid-60s hit singles "The Same Thing" and "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had", and a hornless version of "Who's Gonna Be Your Sweet Man When I'm Gone", one of the few good cuts from the otherwise forgettable "London Sessions" album.
There is nothing here from the misguided and completely superflous "Electric Mud", or from Muddy's last Chess-effort, "The Woodstock Album", but that detracts little or nothing from the greatness of this compilation, the finest overview of Muddy Waters' Chess sides available."
If You Only Had One Blues Album.....Yep, This Is It!
Richard R. Carlton | Ada, MI United States | 08/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A comprehensive collection from the best bluesman ever. Sure, others have done significant recordings, established new sounds, forged creative sounds, but no one has been *the man* for decades, like Muddy has. Regardless of whether it is these priceless early recordings where the genius was just starting to come through or whether it is any of the numerous eras Muddy went through, they are all well represented on this set.The supporting book is one of the best I've seen ever. It is comprehensive, has new and unusal photos, and gives a good history of Waters' recordings.The one belongs in the "if I was on a desert island and take only one CD, which one would it be" category."
oldtimerocker | 05/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Muddy Waters is the Blues! This set will prove that. It does afantastic job of ccovering his material from his years at Chess Records. It starts in 1947 with Gypsy Woman and winds thru the some of the most important songs in the Blues genre. Does I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man, Got My Mojo Working, or I Just Want To Make Love To You sound familiar? They're here. The booklet that comes with it is also very imformative with some nice pictures to boot. A nice package and at the price a steal."