Tuesday, June 17, 2008

CD Review: At Newport 1960

1) I Got My Brand On You
2) Hoochie Coochie Man
3) Baby, Please Don't Go
4) Soon Forgotten
5) Tiger In Your Tank
6) I Feel So Good
7) Got My Mojo Working
8) Got My Mojo Working, Pt. 2
9) Goodbye Newport Blues
10) I Got My Brand On You
11) Soon Forgotten
12) Tiger In Your Tank
13) Meanest Woman
No education in the blues would be complete without awareness of one of the all-time greats. Muddy Waters remains the quintessential blues man, the man whose work defines the genre. He created the music that paved the way for soul and rock and roll...basically, modern popular music.
To listen to his set at 1960's Newport Jazz Festival is to hear Muddy in his prime. He plays some of his most famous songs - the intense "Hoochie Coochie Man" and the train-like "Got My Mojo Working". His take on the blues standard "Baby, Please Don't Go" lacks the punch of hard rocking renditions by Them and Aerosmith, but he and his tight band turn in another admirable performance.
Muddy employed the finest blues men in the business to make music with him. Just listen to "Soon Forgotten", which boasts intricate piano fills from Otis Spann, biting harmonica from James Cotton, and equally stinging guitar from Pat Hare. Muddy pulls it all together with his booming baritone voice.
Other highlights include the speedy shuffle of "Tiger In Your Tank" and a slower but equally soulful record, "I Got My Brand On You". Spann and Cotton harmonize beautifully on "I Feel So Good", and Muddy's shout makes the ladies scream. "Goodbye Newport Blues" is the disc's gloomiest moment, but Muddy's wailing vocal and Spann's honky-tonk backing are still worth a listen.
I highly recommend this collection of blues from perhaps the most important name in the genre's history. Muddy's work affected not only the style, but all popular music that came after. Without him, we wouldn't have our modern-day rock or rap.
****3/4 out of five

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