When this first came out, it was deservedly recognized with grammy nominations. The set featuring Johnny Winters is so good, you hardly notice the distraction Winters represented. "Mannish Boy," "She's 19," and "Deep Down in Florida" are remarkable workouts. Winters has an annoying slide guitar in his own catalogue, but here, trying to squeeze in among Muddy's sidemen, he's kept in check. He did a great job on the production and remastering, and the set has a presence it did not have digitally at first. There is a comment among the reviewers that prefers the vinyl, but I'd say this remaster is better.
However, it's the second disc that makes this essential listening. Stripped of the record label presence, and allowed to do their thing, this is a more accurate reading of just how incendiary Muddy Waters and his band were on any given night. Be it the loose boogie of "Pinetop's Boogie" or the white hot tear down of "Mojo", this set just blazes, smokes and leaves the first disc in the dust. That's true of most of that vinatge of Chicago bluesmen: the whiteboys should have stayed at the bar. They tended to slow things down and dilute the feral power. "Champagne and Reefer" and "Hoochie Coochie Man" fry the audience on both sides. This is a terrific club set and well worth the price all by itself.
Muddy Waters was so importnat to post WW2 music that you ought to seek out any of his recordings. But it was live that set him apart from everyone else. Both of these discs illustrate that categorically.
on March 16, 2007
As I have become more fully aware of Muddy, and the incredible impact his music had on our generation, it took me awhile to get to this recording. (I think there are at least 19 other Muddy CDs on my shelf) I am so glad I did. The re-issue here is wonderful, and Bob Margolin, who played a big part in this re-issue gives us some great background history in the nicely designed CD booklet. The first CD is top-notch live material, but as other reviewers made aware, the second CD is gold. I happen to like Johnny Winter, and am thankful that he played an integral role in bringing Muddy into a "second-coming" of his career in the late 70's. I believe Johnny truly loved and admired Muddy, and contrary to what others have written, I like Winter's presence on the first CD. However, if you are one who doesn't, he's not on the second disc at all. At any rate, this is a set that I know I will keep coming back to for many years. I highly recommend spending the little bit extra to get this 2 CD version of Muddy Live.
on December 10, 2003
This one's worth every penny. Had it been the new disk that had been issued originally, then IT would have won a Grammy. Best "deluxe edition" I've ever bought.
on September 15, 2003
I had this on vinyl LP and it is one of my all time favorite blues album. I was very excited that this has been remastered with additional tracks. Johnny Winters revived Muddy's career in the mid 70s with three studio releases and this live release. It remains a blues classic.
However -- the first disc is supposed to be the original single LP release, and the second disc is the bonus cuts. I could tell from the first cut that the first disc IS NOT exactly like the original release. The version of Mannish Boy is either a completely different take or an extended version that includes Johnny Winters sharing lead vocals with Muddy. The original LP version doesn't have Winters taking the lead vocals on a few verses.
The remastering is incredible and brings out the detail of what is perhaps Muddy's greatest backing band. With Bob Margolin, Pinetop Perkins, James Cotton, Big Eyes Smith, and Guitar Jr. Johnson in addition to Johnny Winters behind him, Muddy cuts loose with all his mojo power! Margolin re-produced this set. The booklet and photos are great, but ol' Bob made sure he appeared in almost all of them. Yeah, Bob, you played in Muddy's band, we got it.
The second disc includes some absolutely stunning tracks that feature the incomparable Pinetop Perkins on piano on Kansas City and Pinetop's Boogie Woogie. There is more give and take among the musicians on the 2nd disc thanks to the laidback club atmosphere. The only low point is She Moves Me, which sounds suspiciously similar to Streamline Woman on disc one.
(EDIT - How embarassing it is to re-read these old reviews! She Moves Me is a low point? I must be some kind of idiot! She Moves me is one of my favorite Muddy tracks. Streamline Woman is nothing like it, but is still a good song. May the blues gods forgive me!)
If this isn't in your blues collection, get it today!
on August 4, 2005
Muddy Waters was signed to Johnny Winter's Blue Skies label in 1976. He had been in semi-retirement for a couple of years following a car accident, but had made a striking return in 1975 with The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album, his last album for Chess, produced by Levon Helm from the Band. Received wisdom is that at the time of Johnny Winter acquiring Muddy Waters' services he was a spent and forgotten force; however one only has to see his 1976 performance and its reception in The Last Waltz, the filmed concert of the Band's farewell concert featuring stellar guests, at which he famously performed Mannish Boy, to see that this simply was not the case.
Johnny Winter certainly did no harm to the revitalization of his career and helped to break him to a new, predominantly white rock audience. He produced and arranged Hard Again, the first album under the new contract, and also played some guitar on it, though he retained Bob Margolin from the Woodstock and Last Waltz line-ups, as well as legendary pianist Pinetop Perkins. Muddy turned in some new songs alongside ferocious re-workings of familiar material including Mannish Boy and I Want To Be Loved (as covered by the Stones), and provided some tasty slide guitar on I Can't Be Satisfied, the Big Bill Broonzy tune he had first recorded in 1948 and which had also inspired the Rolling Stones' version on their No. 2 album. Though not a replacement for the originals, they stand alongside them in terms of performance quality, and benefit from the advances of recording technology.
Blue Skies features 5 tracks from Hard Again and continues in chronological order with 4 equally incendiary tracks from the 1978 follow-up I'm Ready, well received live versions of Nine Below Zero and Baby Please Don't Go from Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live in 1979, and the remaining 5 from his final album, King Bee, released 2 years before his death in 1983 at the age of 68. As well as the Slim Harpo title track, it featured Arthur Crudup's Mean Ol' Frisco Blues and a new version of his own Too Young To Know. The selection serves a useful round up of the final five years of his recording career where he was fortunately on first class form throughout.
on November 28, 2015
Mud, Mud, Mud Morgan, we love you..~ Always MUD! And band, o yeah. He has a Great way with music and those (shezam!) ~Woids! I love the way he talks! Let alone all the rest of Muddy, the singer, leader, cool like a cat. Great sound, replaying this collection often. Live is a beautiful thing with Muddy and the greatest musicians /all, / in this later lineup. I was lucky to meet Willie Big Eyes and see him play after we lost Muddy and even drive Pine to a few gigs. A privelege. He liked the 70 coupe de ville just fine. The greatest, craziest real people make great real music. Those 2 passed in ONE year..with maybe 20+ year's difference in age. Willie and Pine were close, played in the Legendary Blues band..around Chicago and they were legends. I think they went on the road..they even got props in Chicago where blues is not treated like the true gift it really is. No French Quarter for Blues. Hey Buddy is all high class now!!
It was a true shock when Willie was also suddenly lost. But Willie really was at the top of his game and truly seemed to love the life he lived. As Pine did. They are partying with the man, Muddy himself..and most all the other guys, over time, from his band too, right now. Not bad. Still, sorely missed.
He left us some of the best music anywhere. Party on..!
on August 26, 2015
Not all live blues recordings are successful in putting across the intimacy of a small club performance.... Not the case here. Probably one of the finest live blues ever released. Another album in the partnership between Muddy and Johnny Winter. He covers a lot of ground here playing songs from the beginning of his career all the way to his last compositions. Highly recommended.
This is Muddy's penultimate album, the third of four Blue Sky albums created under the auspices of Johnny Winter, who performs on three of this album's tracks. In addition to Johnny, the core band consists of Muddy (slide guitar, vocals), Bob Margolin (guitar), Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson (guitar), Calvin Jones (bass), Willie "Big Eyes" Smith (drums), Pinetop Perkins (piano), Jerry Portnoy (harp), James Cotton (harp), and Charles Calmese (bass). The Legacy Edition expands the original single vinyl album to 2 CDs, 18 tracks, 100 blistering minutes. Ain't that a man?
In addition to his unquestionable chops, Muddy will always be remembered as the quintessential "larger than life" figure, confessing in the interim between set opener "Mannish Boy" and the next track "She's Nineteen Years Old" that "If she wasn't a young girl, I wouldn't be arguing over her, you know? I'm so carried away with young women that I'll kill anybody about one."
The set delivers many of Muddy's best-known songs, and the energy of this live performance shows that he is clearly enjoying his resurgence via the Blue Sky albums. Other than the classic Chess originals (and you can find many good anthologies capturing those songs), my personal favorite among Muddy's albums is probably Fathers & Sons...you've got to hear his ending to "Long Distance Call" and his shouted "She said MUDDY WATERS...another mule's been kickin' in your stall," and the band's thundering climax. The tone's a little different here...Muddy is laid back, "in the pocket"...but by no means lacking energy...and he also supplies a healthy dose of slide guitar.
Muddy released one more album...King Bee (Exp)...and then he was off to meet his maker.
If you're a guitarist...if you're a music lover...you have to get to know Muddy. My original introduction came via The Last Waltz, after which I discovered "Fathers & Sons" and the Blue Sky releases, then the original Chess sides. The chronology doesn't matter. Just jump in the deep end of the pool and start exploring.
Without Muddy, there wouldn't have been Jimi (yes, he was heavily influenced by Buddy Guy, but "Voodoo Chile" is really nothing more than cosmic "Rollin' Stone"). It's American music, it's music filled with heart and soul, created long before the marketing and selling of "product" became the only thing that mattered. Buy this one. You'll be glad you did.
on July 8, 2008
I am not leaving a long detailed review for this album. I just wanted say that this is an amazing set. Johnny and Bob compliment Muddy so well. I love this album. I played it nonstop for like six months. If you love Muddy Waters, or are just a lover of the blues, you will absolutely love this album. Plus the remastered quality of this recording make it a joy to listen too. I dare you to try and not move your head and stomp your feet when have this disc in.
on June 9, 2011
Got My hands on this album less than three weeks ago and I've played nothing else ever since! Not only does this album present a great selection of Muddy-songs, but also in excellent audio quality! The band is outstanding, just listen to all the good harmonica played by Jerry Portnoy! If you aim at buying only one live-album of Muddy Waters, this should be it!