When Muddy took the traditional Delta blues he'd mastered in Mississippi and put a new urban charge into it, Chess Records was there and Chicago blues (not to mention rock 'n' roll) would never be the same. This collection features 20 of his classic early sides, including I'm Your Hoochie Koochie Man; Mannish Boy; I'm Ready; I Just Want to Make Love to You; Rollin' Stone , and many more.
One of the best recordings in Chess Records' 50th Anniverary series is the first of two bookend Muddy Waters collections, His Best 1947-55
. Documenting Waters's most creatively and commercially successful years at Aristocrat/Chess, this CD begins with his formative years and ends with Waters at his peak. So you're in for a lot of terrific bottleneck slide guitar work as well as electric Chicago blues. What's to criticize? Superb remasterings of "I Can't Be Satisfied," "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "I'm Ready," and "Mannish Boy" are simply beyond reproach. With simple bass accompaniment from Ernest "Big" Crawford, Waters's bottleneck tracks are spare, haunting and, quite frankly, perfect country blues. And listening to Waters, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, and Jimmy Rogers piece together (and perfect very quickly) the classic Chicago sound is pure blues epiphany. At the very least, this collection shows you why Waters's rollicking stop-time classics like "Mannish Boy" and "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" have sparked endless imitations over the years--and why nobody has played them better since. --Ken Hohman