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Blues Boulevard (250154)

Honey Bee, Hoochie Coochie Man, Walking Through The Park, Trouble No More, Just To Be With You, Nineteen Years Old, Long Distance Call, Mannish Boy, Crawlin' Kingsnake, Got My Mojo Working, Hold It, Long Distance Call, Where's My Woman?, Got My Mojo Working, Interview with Muddy Waters.

This is important - completely unissued on LP or CD live performances from the Muddy Waters Blues Band recorded at the Universities of Washington and Oregon during his 1971 tour with Big Mama Thornton and Big Joe Turner followed by three tracks from the 1973 Newport Jazz Festival. Just a small portion of the university tour was filmed by organiser Link Wyler and that appeared on the 2004 DVD ‘Gunsmoke Blues' but he kept the more substantial audio tape he recorded for three decades before deciding to let the rest of us hear it this year.

In the early ‘70s Muddy's recording career was going nowhere. He'd waded through the Electric Mud debacle, cruised in neutral on Fathers And Sons and the London Sessions, pussy-footed around on the Woodstock Album and really, the only place he could let loose was live on stage and in those days, his band was made up of musicians like Pinetop Perkins, Sammy Lawhorn, Peewee Madison, Calvin Jones, Willie Smith and Mojo Buford - all hardened blues professionals guaranteed to rock the joint.

Muddy's buoyant mood shines through on the university dates, slamming his strong vocals through songs that mix the deep blues feeling of Just To Be With You, Long Distance Call and Honey Bee with the hard driving punch of songs like of Hoochie Coochie Man, Mannish Boy and Walking Through The Park. They are perfect examples of a genuine blues band working on full power - with Pinetop pounding the piano and Muddy hitting the slide guitar and vocals while guest George Smith adds stylish harmonica to the mix.

As for Newport, Muddy really lets go on Long Distance Call, slicing out some strong slide guitar work while Mojo Buford blows some particularly thoughtful harmonica licks behind and around the vocals. On all three tracks Muddy is in top form, relishing his vocals and playing tons of guitar while the band positively cook.

You might have thought that these would be inferior recordings dredged from the vaults, but they're not. This CD is a good solid, mighty enjoyable look at how terrific Muddy Waters sounded in concert in the 1970s that has been released with the full approval of his estate. You're gonna enjoy this!

Review Date: November 2009

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