|Mud and Big Bill, with brother Joe Morganfield (Photo - Lynn Orman Weiss)|
By the mid 90's, he had his own band, The Stone Cold Blues Band, and began to attract attention, but his career really took off after his first release on Blind Pig Records, Rising Son, hit the streets in 1999. It featured several of his father's former band members, including Pinetop Perkins, Paul Oscher, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Morganfield sounded a lot like his father as a vocalist and showed some pretty impressive skills on guitar, particularly slide. The best thing about it was that while he did cover some of his dad's tunes (and some other classics as well), he brought several great songs of his own to the table. I wasn't sure what to expect when I first heard it...these were the days before songs were blasted all over the internet like they are today....but I have to say that I was really blown away by his talent and the fact that he was the son of Muddy Waters played very little into that.
Bloodstains On The Wall was released about this time last year, during my extended leave of absence from blogging, but it really stood out to me. It's nice to hear the traces of Muddy Waters in Morganfield's voice and his guitar.....who wouldn't want to hear that.....but it's also great to see him branching out from that sound and developing his own distinctive sound.
His vocals strongly resemble his father's in their tone and phrasing, but again like his brother, Mud grew up listening not only to his father's music, but also the popular music of the time, particularly R&B, soul, and Motown, and his live sets featured a mix of those styles. His first album release came much later in 2008 on the Gypsy Woman/Pops Daisy label, but he also released a live disc that year with the Dirty Aces. In 2012, after signing with Severn Records, he released Son of the Seventh Son. A powerful set, Morganfield wrote most of the songs, but covered one of his father's tunes, a chilling read of "You Can't Lose What You Never Had" that sounds for all the world like his father singing it back in the day.
Though I've never heard his early recordings, I did review Son of the Seventh Son for Blues Bytes and the vocal resemblance was just amazing to me. Morganfield's next release, For Pops: A Tribute To Muddy Waters, was, as the title would indicate, a loving tribute to his dad. Morganfield covered fourteen of his father's most beloved tunes, backed by the incredible harmonica legend Kim Wilson. Severn Records president David Earl reported that he was inundated with phone calls and emails after Morganfield's debut release, demanding that he and Wilson (also with Severn) join forces.
Like his brother, Mud Morganfield manages to carry on the proud musical traditions of his father, but he also shows that he is more than capable of branching out to other styles with relative ease.
I think Muddy Waters would be extremely proud of his sons doing their part to keep the blues alive. If you haven't had the chance to check out either of these fine artists, I highly recommend you give their music a spin.