Friday, April 6, 2018

Another Blues Fix Mix CD - Volume Two, Track One

Last year, I decided to share the track list of a mix CD that I compiled for a couple of friends who were just starting to get into the blues several years ago.  It served as an introduction to the music for them and included some of the songs that have become favorites of mine over the years.  In all, I've done four volumes that I've shared with some local folks over the years.  The first volume actually existed as a mix cassette tape that's probably about 15-20 years old now.

(By the way, I realize that a lot of folks don't do CDs anymore, opting for downloads and such.  I like to do that sometimes, too, even though I've been around since shortly after man discovered fire.  However, the CD is still a solid way to introduce new listeners to new music, so you youngsters bear with me.)

When you put together collections, sometimes you can get lost in the compiling because you start thinking, "What about Robert Johnson?  I've got to have one of his songs on there.......and T-Bone Walker.......and Howlin' Wolf.....can't have a mix tape without Muddy Waters.....etc...."  I tried on these collections to concentrate more on my favorite songs from over my 30 years of listening to the blues.....more than making sure I covered all the great artists (most of them eventually do make it on one CD or another) or all the classic tunes.  I figured those artists and songs would be easy enough to track down on their own.

Anyway, starting today, we look at FBF's Mix CD, Volume 2.......track 1 is actually by one of those great artists, Muddy Waters, who was born 105 years ago this week (April 4, 1913).  The track that kicks off Volume 2 is his 70's version of "Mannish Boy," which was also the opening track of his "comeback" album in 1975, Hard Again.

Though Waters had been releasing new material for Chess Records until the label folded the same year, none of his later work for Chess was a raw and visceral as the material he recorded under the oversight of Johnny Winter for Winter's Blue Sky label, beginning with Hard Again.  Winter wisely went for a bare-bones production and backed Waters on guitar, along with old musical partners Pinetop Perkins, James Cotton, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, and Bob Margolin.

It's obvious from the beginning that Waters is having more fun than he's had in a while....Winter captures some of the between-song banter to prove it.  Waters released four albums for Blue Sky and really recaptured the feeling of those early Chess sides.  It's a great way to open a collection for new blues fans, who might have actually heard this song on a movie or TV soundtrack over the past thirty years or so.

For those interested, here's Waters' original version of "Mannish Boy," recorded about twenty years earlier in 1955 on Chess.  I prefer the wild and woolly '75 version myself.

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