Muddy Waters CDs
The Anthology: 1947-1972
A Tribute to Muddy Waters: King of the Blues /
King of Chicago Blues
The Muddy Waters Story /
Can't Get No Grindin'
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Can’t Be Satisfied on PBS
Reviewed by Amin
Today, there are relatively few young
blacks who know anything about the Blues. Names like Robert
Johnson and Muddy Waters have no meaning to them. Yet knowledge
of Blues figures such as Johnson and Waters is essential if the
history of Southern black people is ever to be fully explored.
Although W. C. Handy is called the “Father of the Blues,”
this music existed long before Handy penned his first Blues
score in 1911. The Blues began as a secular counterpoint to the
Southern Spirituals and the Gospels. Sometimes referred to as
the Devil’s music because its edifice of choice was the
infamous Juke Joint where whiskey mixed--many times
violently--with hard living men and women. This music may be
viewed as the lyrical response to all that black people faced in
their everyday lives in the Southland. The love and pain, union
and separation, wretchedness and joy are all themes explored by
Can’t Be Satisfied is a magnificent rendering of the life
of Muddy Waters, perhaps the second most important figure in
Blues history. Only the legendary Robert Johnson has made a
greater impact than Muddy has on the music. Muddy Waters was
born April 4, 1935 in Rolling Fork, Mississippi. His mother died
when he was just three years old. Muddy’s grandmother raised
him and also gave him his famous nickname His given name was
McKinley Morganfield. It was Muddy’s grandmother who moved him
two hundred miles north from Rolling Fork to Clarksdale,
Can’t Be Satisfied begins where all blues begins -- in the
Delta where Muddy grew up. But this PBS documentary deftly draws
the viewer into the Blues world. At
the center of this world is the Blues genius Muddy Waters. What
I like about this documentary is that it never forgets that
it’s all about a Man and his Blues. Friends, relatives, band
members, and lovers all have something to say about Muddy. And,
even Muddy, himself, speaks passionately about his life and
music. But all these things take a back seat to Muddy’s Blues.
Much has been made about Muddy playing an
amplified guitar and using amplified instruments in his band.
But none of this would have made a difference if Muddy hadn’t
been one hell of a musician. And everyone in this documentary
makes it clear that when Muddy played or sang something special,
even mythic, was going on. After all, it was Muddy’s earthy
music, not Austin Powers, who taught us what Mojo
was. And, it was Muddy who sang the national anthem for all
black men. Yeah, Muddy spelled it all out for us when he said he
was a Mmmaannn!
Nowhere is Muddy’s mastery of the music
as evident as when he sings about a love affair between an older
man and his “nineteen years old" lover. It is this song
that sets up a segment of the documentary that explores Muddy
Waters love and family life. What is made clear in this segment
is that Muddy loved “beautiful” young women. And Muddy was
not one to let marriage get in the way when it came to his
pursuing what he loved. To some this segment may paint an
unpleasant picture of a black man. But Muddy was what he was.
And there is no doubt that he would have never wanted anyone to
apologize for the life that he lived.
Like other documentaries about black
artists, I Can’t Be
Satisfied tells of Muddy’s exploitation by the owner of
the legendary Chess Record Company. There is also a segment
about what happened to the Blues when R&B came along. But
while other black artists were broken by the dirty dealings of
their record companies and changes in popular musical taste,
Muddy found a way to thrive under these conditions. And, again,
this would have never been possible if the music he made
wasn’t good. Chuck D, a respected member of the Hip Hop
generation, fully recognized the power of Muddy’s music.
Speaking of the greatly criticized album,
Electric Mud, Chuck D says that the electric element was not
driving the music. In other words, Muddy brought the Blues to
the band, not the other way around. It was Muddy’s
Blues-filled vocals, Chuck D declared, that made the album a
significant addition to Blues History.
The documentary ends with Muddy’s death
in Illinois on April 30, 1983. Still, this documentary does
everything and more to make the life of Muddy Waters a Blues
testament well worth seeing. I highly recommend this documentary
to novices and hard core fans of the Blues and the legendary
* * * * *
Muddy Waters (14 April 1915-30 April
1983), born McKinley A. Morganfield, was a sharecropping
Mississippi bluesman, who became the premier bluesman and
bandleader among Chicago numerous blues singers and wailers. He
was The Man among many blues artists who strove to become
immortals. He had staying power and outlasted the lot of his
generation in years and drawing power and influence. B.B. King
may have indeed been a 'king," but surely Muddy was the
Emperor, the King of Kings.
A Bio Chronology
1915 (14 April) -- Born in
a small enclave in Issaquena County, Mississippi known as Jug's
nearest town on the map a small place called Rolling Fork that
was on the train tracks. His mother
died when he was about two years old
1918 -- His grandmother
moved north to the Stovall Plantation outside of Clarksdale
before Muddy was
three years old. He stayed there, for the most part, until he
was thirty years old. The area, near the
Mississippi River, was wet, and his grandmother nicknamed him
because of the mud puddles in
which he played.
1920 -- Muddy started
playing harmonica, an old accordion, and a jew's harp.
1930 -- Bought his first
guitar. Later, the Son Sims Four, enlisted him as a
vocalist. Muddy saw and was
inspired by the playing of Son House whose style he learned.
Still later Muddy bought a 1934 V8
1941 -- Meets John Work III
( Fisk U.) and Alan Lomax (Library of Congress), who were
looking for someone in the style of Robert Johnson, and records in his house
for the Library of Congress --"Can't Be Satisfied" and "Feel Like Going Home."
1942 (July) -- The
Fisk-Library of Congress return and records Muddy for several
more sides for them,
some alone and some with the Son Sims group.
1943 (summer) -- Goes
to Chicago, after a fight with the plantation overseer. Muddy's
preceded him to Chicago, gave him an electric guitar soon after
he arrived. Incorporates thumbpicks into his style to further increase the volume. Band
he assembled established the
electric blues sound.
1944 -- Playing house
parties his reputation grows quickly and begins to meet
established musicians like
Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Slim, and Tampa Red.
1946 -- Cuts "Mean Red
Spider," for J. Mayo Williams, an African-American
independent producer and
three tracks for Columbia, and remained unreleased for decades.
1948 -- His next session
was for Aristocrat Records, owned in part by Leonard Chess, and
Be Satisfied" and "Feel Like Going Home," release
as a single 78 rpm with a new urban feeling
--with the electric guitar and without the piano. The single
sold out its first weekend and Muddy
Waters had his first taste of stardom.
As early as 1946, Muddy had met Jimmy Rogers (guitarist)
and Little Walter (harmonica player).
The trio developed the urban blues sound and became popular in
the clubs, calling themselves the
Headhunters. They enlisted Baby Face Leroy Foster (drums).
1949 -- Muddy returned
south triumphant, with their own show on KFFA; for many in the Delta,
it was the
first time they had heard or saw an electric guitar. Builds his
reputation with songs like "Train Fare
Home" and "Screamin' and Cryin'."
1950 -- Records with Chess
"Rollin' Stone," a song about power, rootless and
ruthless independence. The
Rolling Stones chose their name from this recording. Muddy's
sound was one of exuberant
celebration, sexual conquest, and victory over depression.
1951 -- Band round out with
Elgin Evans replacing Foster on drums, and by the addition of
Otis Spann on
piano. With Otis Spann
on board, the modern blues band format and sound was fully
1953 -- The whole band
records on Chess.
-- Records "I'm Ready."
1955 -- Chuck Berry arrives
in Chicago and Muddy advises him to record with Chess. The
"Maybellene" release, Chuck Berry's success, and the new rock and roll sound,
diminishes the popularity of the
-- Records "Just
To Be With You."
1951 - 1956 -- Muddy had
fourteen songs on the national charts, including "Still A
Fool," "Hoochie Coochie Man," "Just Make Love To Me," "I'm
Ready," and "Mannish Boy." From the middle 1950s
Waters' songwriting became almost wholly urban in character, as
example "She's Nineteen Years Old," "Walkin' Thru
The Park," "You Can't Lose What You Ain't
Never Had" and the anthemic "Got My Mojo
Working," among others. In the late 1950s the national tours grew scarce for Muddy
and he stayed on in Chicago.
1958 -- Muddy accepted an
invitation to perform in England. The British kids were
heavily influenced by Muddy's sound and style and many soon bought electric guitars
and amps. Muddy returned two
more times to England in the early 1960s, solidifying his role
as an instigator of the British Invasion
1960 -- Performs at
the Newport Jazz Festival. The budding love generation responded
to his rock and
rolling versions of "Got My Mojo Working" and "I
Feel So Good," and Muddy had a new
audience. The 1960s was marked by experimentation and
manipulation, which included the
recording of Electric Mud.
1969 -- Sudden death of
Leonard Chess. Records The Woodstock Album with members of the
produced by Band drummer Levon Helm on the new Chess (now owned
by a corporation)..
1975 -- Muddy terminates
the nearly thirty-year relationship with Chess.
1976 -- Records Hard
Again, which won a Grammy, with blues/rock star Johnny
Winter as producer.
This comeback led to Muddy opening concerts for Eric Clapton and
jamming with the Rolling Stones. Later, Muddy records three more albums, the next two
also winning Grammy awards. Settles a lawsuit with Arc Music, his publishing company,
allowing him to live his final years in
(30 April) -- Dies quietly
in his sleep in his home in suburban Westmont Illinois.
* * * *
In Chicago, a stretch of 43rd Street was
renamed Muddy Waters Drive. In 1987 Muddy was inducted
into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 1992 was given
the Record Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award
A guitar has been made
from a plank off his Stovall cabin, and the cabin itself
has been dismantled, sent on a tour, and then placed in
the Clarksdale Blues Museum.
Many of Muddy's band members had successful solo
careers -- Jimmy Rogers and Little Walter became stars
in the 1950s. Later, Otis Spann, James Cotton, Paul
Oscher, Luther "Georgia Boy" "(Creepin')
Snake" Johnson, Luther "Guitar Jr."
Johnson, Jerry Portnoy, Bob Margolin, and Willie
"Big Eyes" Smith, among others, enjoyed
careers of their own.
A Tribute to Muddy Waters: King of the Blues
I know for a fact
that there would not be rock & roll in America ...
without Muddy Waters." Truer words are seldom
spoken--but it's blues musicians who turn out to pay
tribute to the Master on this album, whether they're
old-timers like Buddy Guy and Koko Taylor, or relative
newcomers like Mem Shannon or Waters's own son, Bill
Morganfield. Generally speaking, tribute albums are
destined to fall short, because no matter how good a
musician is, he's not going to play the song exactly
like the original, nor should he try to. But as far as
honoring the blues giant, A Tribute to Muddy Waters
lives up to its name. Keb' Mo's take on "I Can't Be
Satisfied" comes awfully close to Waters's, while Guy's
"She's Nineteen Years Old" and Taylor's "Long Distance
Call" are just as good as one would expect from these
two Chicago greats. Shannon adapts "Gypsy Woman" to his
own New Orleans style, and the late Robert Lockwood Jr.
provides a laid-back, easy version of "Mean Red Spider."
An important highlight is Morganfield's "Hoochie Coochie
Man"; at times, the son of Muddy Waters sounds so much
like his father, it's eerie. Overall it's a fitting
honorarium to a man without whom the blues as we hear it
today would not exist.—Genevieve
* * *
King of Chicago Blues
I loved the "Proper
Introduction to Muddy Waters" but this is even better.
Four disks worth from the 1941 recordings through
"Trouble No More" in excellent sound. Best takes, too.
It's basically like the Chess anniversary set (1947-52)
that came out a few years ago, only now including the
great recordings from 1953-55. Discs 3 and 4 are just
one masterpiece after the next, right up there with
Armstrong or Monroe or name-your-greatest 20th century
set. The songs you haven't heard are as good as the more
typically anthologized. And it's cheap!—G.
* * *
This is the
infamous "somebody-put-something-in-the-Waters" LP from
1968. A relative hit for Chess, it features the exalted
bluesman bellowing over psychedelicized arrangements
that owe more to Steppenwolf than Willie Dixon. Waters
himself complained that the drums were too busy and the
lead guitar sounded like a cat's meow. Not a bad
* * *
This is the concert
that inspired the likes of Eric Burdon, Clapton, Winwood,
Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page...this is a must
for blues and rock n' roll collectors. The sound is
live, probably Muddy's best live recording. I would like
to find the video/35mm film to this. I also recommend
"Hard Again" by Muddy with the help of James Cotton (who
is also on this live recording) and Johnny Winter. The
man is missed.—"music man"
* * *
The Muddy Waters Story
A newly researched
complete audio-biography of Muddy Waters. A deluxe 4-CD
set comprising a double CD of audio-biography and two
CDs of original musical rarities. Presented in a luxury
collectable full-colour slipcase with two illustrated
* * *
Can't Get No Grindin'
Short & sweet, fat
& raw, all the elements of the Blues at it's best. This
is Muddy Waters as he saw himself..a Blues legend at
center stage & why not. I have this on vinyl & cd. Buy
it, play it. Now ain't that a man!—R.L. Varner
* * *
DVDs of Muddy Waters Performances
Concert 1971 /
Classic Concerts /
Can't Be Satisfied /
Live at the Chicago Blues Festival /
Got My Mojo Working
* * *
Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry
(born October 18, 1926) is an American
guitarist, singer and songwriter, and
one of t
rock and roll
music. With songs such as "Maybellene"
and Roll Music"
(1957) and "Johnny
(1958), Chuck Berry refined and
rhythm and blues
into the major elements that made rock
and roll distinctive, with lyrics
focusing on teen life and consumerism
that would be a major influence on
subsequent rock music. . . . After his
release in 1963, Berry had several more
hits, including "No
Particular Place to Go",
Never Can Tell",
and "Nadine", but these did not achieve
the same success, or lasting impact, of
his 1950s songs, and by the 1970s he was
more in demand as a nostalgic live
performer, playing his past hits with
local backup bands of variable quality.
His insistence on being paid cash led to
a jail sentence in 1979—four months and
community service for tax evasion. . . .
Berry was among the first musicians to be
inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its
opening in 1986, with the comment that
he "laid the groundwork for not only a
rock and roll sound but a rock and roll
stance." . . .
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500
Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll
included three of Chuck Berry's songs: "Johnny
B. Goode," "Maybellene,"
and Roll Music."
* * *
* * * * *
Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. —
* * *
Hopes and Prospects
By Noam Chomsky
In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky
surveys the dangers and prospects of our
early twenty-first century. Exploring
challenges such as the growing gap
between North and South, American
exceptionalism (including under
President Barack Obama), the fiascos of
Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli
assault on Gaza, and the recent
financial bailouts, he also sees hope
for the future and a way to move
forward—in the democratic wave in Latin
America and in the global solidarity
movements that suggest "real progress
toward freedom and justice."
Hopes and Prospects
is essential reading for
anyone who is concerned about the
primary challenges still facing the
human race. "This is a classic Chomsky
work: a bonfire of myths and lies,
sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky
is an enduring inspiration all over the
world—to millions, I suspect—for the
simple reason that he is a truth-teller
on an epic scale. I salute him." —John
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The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
update 2 May 2012