Personnel includes: Muddy Waters (vocals, guitar); Leroy Foster (guitar, drums); Tampa Red, Jimmy Rogers, Pat Hare (guitar); Alex Atkins (alto saxophone); Marcus Johnson (tenor saxophone); Little Walter, Junior Wells, James Cotton (harmonica); Sunnyland Slim, Little Johnny Jones, Otis Spann (piano); Ernest "Big" Crawford, Ransom Knowling, Willie Dixon, Andrew Stephenson (bass); Odie Payne, Elgin Evans, Fred Below, Fracis Clay, Willie Smith (drums).
Producers: Leonard Chess, Phil Chess.
Compilation producer: Dick Shurman.
Includes liner notes by Mary Katherine Aldin and Dick Sherman.
Digitally remastered by Doug Schwartz (MCA Studios, North Hollywood, California).
This collection of rare and previously unreleased Muddy Waters tunes was originally compiled in 1982, but legal complications meant that it wouldn't see release until 1984, a year after Muddy's death. Drawing as it does from the prime years of Muddy's career (1947-1960), this compilation does double duty as an illuminating document offering a formerly unavailable perspective, and a tour through the premier Chicago bluesman's artistic development.
The earliest tunes, recorded for the Chess brothers' Aristocrat label, show a young Muddy in stripped-down, drumless mode, still bearing the influence of Delta blues. The 1948 cut "You're Gonna Miss Me," a proto-rockabilly tune waxed nearly a decade prior to Elvis's breakthrough, posits Muddy as the true father of rock & roll. Muddy's turbocharged '50s style is represented here by the titanic resonance of "Iodine in My Coffee" and Howlin' Wolf's signature tune "Smokestack Lightnin'." By the end of the '50s, Muddy had his Hoochie Coochie Man persona down to a science, as shown by 1958's sinuous, unapologetically lustful "Born Lover."
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