Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hard Again/Muddy Waters: Part 4

Muddy Waters in 1976 (Wikimedia Commons/CC)
This is part of a multi-part post:  Muddy Waters

Part 4: Hard Again

Muddy Waters was without a record contract when Chess Records stopped recording new music. His success with The Band left him in a good position to hit the road and make some money on tour, Tour he did! During 1976 he performed  184 times according to The Official Muddy Waters Website .

Two Live Bootleg Albums

In 1976, Muddy Waters played mostly club dates in the US and Canada. That fall, in October, he had a series of concerts in Europe.  The band was hot and recordings were made. A few semi-bootleg albums from those performances make our playlist from 1976.

Album: Muddy Waters: Live in Switzerland 1976, Vol. 1 (Landscape) Muddy Waters

  • After Hours 7:59
  • Medley - Floyd's Guitar Blues - Blue Lights 8:51
  • Boogie Thing 3:14
  • Chicken Shack 2:32
  • Going Down Slow 7:26
  • What's The Matter With The Mill 5:05
  • Hoochie Coochie Man 3:15
  • Howlin' Wolf 7:53
  • Everything's Gonna Be Alright 5:13
  • Theme 1:04
  • Dust My Broom 5:01
  • You Left Me With A Broken Heart 6:28
  • Nothing But Soul 7:03
  • I Got A Mind To Travel 12:13
  • After Hours_Band Introduction 9:14
  • Stormy Monday Blues 7:54
  • Walking Blues 4:02
  • Rollin` And Tumblin` 4:24
  • I Got My Mojo Working 3:29
  • Take A Little Walk With Me 8:10
  • For You My Love 6:03

Album: Screamin' & Cryin' - Live In Warsaw 76 Muddy Waters

  • Baby Please Don't Go 2:52
  • Soon Forgotton 4:56
  • Corrina, Corrina 3:41
  • After Hours 5:46
  • Hoochie Coochie Man 3:06
  • Junior Shuffle 4:45
  • Howlin' Wolf 6:28
  • Floyd's Guitar Blues 7:50
  • Blow Wind Blow 3:54
  • Caldonia 6:01
  • Screamin' And Cryin' 5:18
  • Got My Mojo Working 3:03
  • Garbage Man 5:53
  • J.P.'s Boogie 3:32
  • Goin' Down Slow 7:22
  • What's The Matter With The Mill 4:54

Rather than telling you what Muddy Waters sounded like on that tour, I'm going to let the music speak for itself. A video from his performance in Dortmund, Germany on October 29 is also widely bootlegged and available on YouTube. Thanks to YouTube User 00liadon for posting it.

The Last Waltz

Upon his return to the states, Muddy Waters re-entered the studio. He had a new label, Blue Sky Records, and a new producer,  blues rock disciple and virtuoso in his own right, Johnny Winters. Winters encouraged Muddy Waters to return to the classic blues that made him instead of chasing down the inlikely hybrid formulas that were the mainstay of his later Chess Records career. The record would not come out until January of the next year. Before the album would be released Muddy made a concert appearance that would add to his legendary status.

The Last Waltz (Flickr User Piano Piano!/CC)
On Thanksgiving weekend, November 25 1976, The Band, who Muddy had recently worked with, held a farewell concert to celebrate their career and the formal disintegration of The Band. Billed as the The Last Waltz, the concert was to be produced by legendary concert promoter Bill Graham in his Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Muddy Waters as well as Paul Butterfield, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Ringo Starr, Ronnie Hawkins, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ronnie Wood, Neil Diamond, Bobby Charles, The Staple Singers, and Eric Clapton all joined The Band for cameo appearances during the concert.

Martin Scorsese shot a documentary of the concert. Released as The Last Waltz, the film is considered to be one of the best rock and roll films of all time.

Recently, in many cities around the country, an annual tradition has begun where the concert is reenacted  Thanksgiving weekend using local musicians to raise money for issues that affect their community, such as health care for musicians. I have been attending the Portland version for the last several years and the variety of songs and rock and roll flavors really make it a great showcase for local talent.

One of the standout moments in the film is Muddy Waters performance. Not just because he was red hot as a performer in that moment, but also due to a fortunate technical failure. Due to a breakdown among the camera crew, there was only one working camera for Muddy Waters performnance of Mannish Boy, Recognizing the importance of the artist, the cameraman ran his single camera using a very slow zoom on on Muddy Waters as he performed the song.. Since there are no camera changes or varying angles to the shot for most of the song the strength and simplicity of the shot showcase the strength and simplicity of Muddy Water's music, A powerful piece of film!

Hard Again (Wikipedia)
Hard Again

As 1977 began, blues fans had the opportunity to hear the music that producer Johnny Winter had coaxed out of Muddy Waters. Hard Again was his best recording in a while  Recorded in just three days, the album mixed classic songs from Muddy's catalog with some new numbers and featured his touring road band. The album climbed to 143 on the Billboard 200, where Muddy had not been since 1970's Fathers and Sons. It would also get that years Grammy for the "Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording" of the year. It is a return to Muddy's roots as Johnny Winter seemed to remind him that his blues was powerful enough to do the job and he did not need to piggyback onto any other musical gimmicks like Chess Records was so keen to make him do.

Album: Hard Again Muddy Waters

  • Mannish Boy 5:26  
  • Bus Driver 7:49  
  • I Want To Be Loved 2:23  
  • Jealous Hearted Man 4:26  
  • I Can't Be Satisfied 3:32  
  • The Blues Had A Baby And They Named It Rock And Roll (#2) 3:38  
  • Deep Down In Florida 5:28  
  • Crosseyed Cat 6:02  
  • Little Girl 7:06 

I'm Ready (Wikipedia)
I'm Ready

The success of Hard Again, made another Johnny Winter album the logical follow up for Muddy Waters on Blue Sky Records. It was his thirteenth studio album. Once again Johnny Winters had Muddy and and his band follow the formula of   mixing classic songs with new numbers, The album did not really have a breakout song, so it did not fare quite as well on the Billboard charts as his pervious effort, Hard Again. Still the critics loved it and the album went on to take home a Grammy that year,

Album: I'm Ready Muddy Waters

  • I'm Ready 3:26  
  • 33 Years 5:20  
  • Who Do You Trust? 5:00  
  • Copper Brown 4:58  
  • I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man 4:00  
  • Mamie 5:36  
  • Rock Me 3:55  
  • Screamin' And Cryin' 5:05  
  • Good Morning Little School Girl 3:22 

King Bee (Wikipedia)

King Bee

Muddy Waters 14th studio album, his third with Johnny Winters on the Blue Sky Label was King Bee. Sadly it was to be his last. It was May of 1980. After three days in the studio the production was halted. A salary dispute between the band and it manger interuppted the proceedings. Muddy's health had been failing, so the recordings did not live up to his standards. Regardless, Blue Sky didn't want Muddy Waters momentum to slip. The label worked with what they had., Outtakes from Hard Again were added to fill up the disc and the album was released in 1981.It was not one of his best and did not recieve the awards or acclaimation of the last two Blue Sky albums. Since Muddy Waters did not like this album, and it really doesn't offer anything to dispute his opinion we leave it off of the playlist.

Signing Off and Coming Attractions

The passing of Johnny Winters earlier this summer as I was doing preliminary research on this post was coincidental. However, it gave me the opportunity to hear a lot about Johnny Winters contributions to Muddy Waters career. It also opened my eyes to an artist I was not very familiar with. RIP Johnny Winters, I hardly knew ye'.

Next time we are Route 66, we will be wrapping up Muddy Waters and have afew more bluesmen to look at before we actually begin to make some forward progress down Route 66. I suspect that things will pick up speed when we finally make it out of Chicago.

Chicago has a birthed a lot of music being such a huge city. We will never be able to cover it all and we must be moving on. Do you have a Chicago artist that feel is too important too overlook? A simpler question, who is your fovorite blues singer? Let us know in the comments.

  • Next Week: We will be in San Diego, California following the old Highway 101 past some Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
  • Two Weeks: Jupiter, Florida has some great history and gorgeous beaches that we will be checking out as we continue up Interstate 95
  • Three Weeks: We complete our biography of Muddy Waters, as we continue to be in Chicago, Illinois on Route 66.
Mileage Stats
Route 66: 0 Miles/1 State/676 Tracks/161 Videos/31 Posts
Highway 101: 19 Miles/2 Countries/1 State/503 Tracks/186 Videos/23 Posts
Interstate 95: 84 Miles/1 State/30 Tracks/70 Videos/9 Posts
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