Sunday, June 8, 2014


Muddy Waters wasn't the only one who made the blues electric, but he perfected it. Moving from Mississippi to Chicago in the 1940's, Waters was armed with the Delta style, but once he grabbed an electric he started thrilling the clubs. He joined the Chess business even before they launched their eponymous label, recording for Aristocrat when the brothers bought in. Once they did rename it, Waters became the label's biggest blues star. His stinging guitar and deep moan were dark weapons, and his own lyrics from the same well as all the classic Delta verses.

When he teamed up with writer/bass player Willie Dixon in 1954, the electric Chess sound really took off. Dixon's lyrics weren't the old language, this was modern city stuff. Hoochie Coochie Man, I Just Want To Make Love To You and I'm Ready were plain-spoken and a lot more upbeat, for a faster-paced scene.

This double CD is packed with 50 cuts, from Waters' first Chicago recording, 1947's Gypsy Woman, to the 1972 number Can't Get No Grindin'. The music changed a lot over those years, but his dangerous and sexy vocals did not. Along with his rival, Howlin' Wolf, Waters made a series of Chess classics that are still the yardstick that newcomers are measured with. At two-and-a-half hours, this is a great way to get the essential stuff.

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