Sunday, December 3, 2017

Review: 'The Best of Muddy Waters' Vinyl Reissue

The term Rock & Roll wasn’t on anyone’s lips in 1948 when Muddy Waters released the malicious “I Can’t Be Satisfied”. With its pulsing rhythm and a title that The Rolling Stones would alter to create a genre-defining disc seven years later, it’s hard not to view “I Can’t Be Satisfied” as the birth of something. The connection between Muddy’s blues and the rockers who worshiped him would get even sharper when he plugged in with records such as “Rollin’ Stone” and “Honey Bee”. Keith stole his sting. Mick stole his yowl. But unlike so many artists who ceded the things they originated to those who took them and cashed in, Muddy always remained Muddy: an originator, a legend, and a true Rock & Roller.

One thing that wasn’t too Rock & Roll about Muddy Waters’s earliest records was the format. While the 45 would be the Rock & Roll format, Waters’s discs rotated at 78 rpms. In 1958, Chess Records glued together twelve of those key cuts and spewed them back out on LP for the first time.

The Best of Muddy Waters remains a bracing listen both for the power of the man’s voice and guitar and for the eerie atmosphere that transcends the usual notions of 1950s Rock & Roll. Most potent of all is an explicit sexiness that burns hotter than perhaps anything any other artist produced in Rock or the blues. Muddy Waters expresses the shit that Jagger and Robert Plant can only pretend to feel.

Universal Music has just reissued The Best of Muddy Waters on heavy, super quiet vinyl that makes the music sound like it was cut yesterday and may make you itch to hear some of those old pops and crackles… but I’m sure you’ll have no trouble making some of your own.
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