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Muddy Waters- Hard Again
Original Release Date: 1977

Muddy Waters/Vocals & Guitar, Johnny Winter/Guitar, James Cotton/Harp, Pinetop Perkins/Piano, Bob Margolin/Guitar, Charles Calmese/Bass, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith/Drums

1. Mannish Boy (Diddley/London/Waters) - 5:23
2. Bus Driver (Abrahamson/Morganfield) - 7:44
3. I Want to Be Loved (Dixon) - 2:20
4. Jealous Hearted Man (Morganfield) - 4:23
5. I Can't Be Satisfied (Morganfield) - 3:28
6. The Blues Had a Baby and They Named It... (McGhee/Morganfield) - 3:35
7. Deep Down in Florida (Morganfield) - 5:25
8. Crosseyed Cat (Morganfield) - 5:59
9. Little Girl (Morganfield) - 7:06

Review (by Tommy Chung)
Muddy Waters is undoubtedly the King of Urban Blues. Apart from Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters is the most important and influential Bluesman in Blues History. He is the one who defined the Chicago Blues sound and epitomized the spirit and soul of Delta Blues and Urban Blues. He lived in an age when his contemporaries and rivals included people no less than Howling Wolf, Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter. But Muddy always sits on his throne and was never truly threatened.

Muddy Waters traveled from the Delta to Chicago in 1934 looking for a better life. In Chicago, he worked in paper factories, worked as a truck driving and did all sorts of odd jobs to earn a living. When finally got his band together and found his touch, Muddy turned a new page in Blues history. The most prominent feature of Muddy Water's music is that he retained the Delta feel in an electric band setting. He retained the Delta but expressed it in an electric setting. His was powerful, he was tough, and he was sexy, he was the Hoochie Coochie Man. He was simply the Blues.

I run a Blues Club in Hong Kong called 48th Street Chicago Blues and play there. One night, an American gentleman who had been watching me play asked me during break time "How do you define 'Chicago Blues'?" Tough question! Chicago Blues, to me, is a music style typified by shuffle rhythm, with bass, drums, electric guitars and the harp. The electric age provided the average Blues guy with a power they hitherto never possessed: the amplified electric guitar and bass, the Blues harp blown through a distorted amplifier, P.A. and speakers. These were elements people like Son House, Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson lacked that defined Chicago Blues. Muddy Waters was the man caught in this new era of electricity and he literally electrified his music as well as all of us. But for the electric age, Muddy would have been just another acoustic player imitating Robert Johnson. You just listen to Muddy's earliest recording on "The Complete Plantation Recordings" Chess MCA CHD-9344. He was just playing just about what everyone was playing at the time; the usual slide guitar, the Robert Johnson licks and Delta singing style. I mean he was good, but he wouldn't stand out in a crowd of other Delta Blues players.

Like everyone Muddy took time to refine his craft, to find his true voice Muddy also did. Just listen to his 1948 version of Can't Be Satisfied and compare that with the version on "Hard Again." The version on "Hard Again" is so much more relaxed, Muddy was singing with such ease that was never found in his earlier recordings. It is just a bottle of matured wine. All of Muddy's recordings were good. Willie Dixon provided him with a string of classics, but it takes Muddy's character and voice to make them work. In the 40's and 50's, Muddy assembled to some of the greatest ever Blues payers in his band, Jimmy Rogers, James Cotton, Little Walter, Otis Spann and "Pine Top" Perkins. Each of these players is a master in himself. All the Muddy recordings prior to "Hard Again" were nothing short of classics. But the best was yet to come. In the 70's, Muddy was signed up to CBS Blues Sky. They had a headache finding someone to produce him. In the end they found the perfect choice: Johnny Winter. They couldn't have found a better person. Johnny produced and played on three Muddy Waters recording "I'm Ready", "Hard Again" and "King Bee". These recordings represented Muddy Waters at the height of his power. No longer in his youth but this time Muddy was at his best. There was a certain ease and playfulness in these recordings that you cannot find in Muddy's earlier recordings. They say you can tell a man by the company he keeps. This was Muddy's backing band on "Hard Again": Johnny Winter on guitar, Bob Margolin on guitar, James Cotton on harp, "Pine Top" Perkins on piano, Charles Calmese on bass, Willie "Big Eye" Smith on drums. How about that?

It was a difficult choice for me between "Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live" Blue Sky ZK 35712 and "Hard Again." The live recording demonstrated the power of the man playing live. When I first heard it, I was swearing like anything, it just drove me crazy. I was saying to myself, how can anyone be so good? It's just not allowed! In the end, I went for "Hard Again" because it had all the energy and a more relaxed feel to it.

Muddy passed away in 1983. That was a sad, sad day. We all have to go. But Muddy's music is always here, his legacy lives on, his music is just as relevant today as when they were in the 40's and 50's. If you want to see Muddy Waters live, you can catch of a glimpse of him in movie "The Last Waltz", The Band's farewell concert. There is also a DVD released by Pioneer Artists PA-98-598-D. The show was recorded at the Chicago Blues Festival. Everything was great until Johnny Winter arrived on stage. When Johnny came on, Muddy simply brought the roof down.

Extended Listening

-Johnny Winter- Nothin' But The Blues

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