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Severn (SEVCD64)

Gone To Main Street, Just To Be With You, I Don’t Know Why, I Want You To Love Me, Still A Fool, My Dog Can’t Bark, She’s Got It, I Love The Life I Live, Blow Wind Blow, Nineteen Years Old, I Want To Be Loved, Trouble No More, I Just Want To Make Love To You, She Moves Me

If you were fortunate enough to be born the son of Muddy Waters and then  blessed again in later life having grown the lungs and singing pipes that leave no doubt of your musical lineage, it would seem inevitable that at some point during your musical career you would produce a tribute to your father. So why not around the time that marks what would have been Muddy’s 100th birthday?

Fortunately for Mud, and of course for us, he was also able to find some tremendous musicians to join him in this venture - re-creating the band sound that Muddy was able to surround himself with in his hey-day years at Chess Records in the 1950s. And on this album, we get not only Mud’s marvellous tribute to his father’s songs and singing, but also his amazing sound. Kim Wilson’s stunning harp takes on the role of Little Walter (and Walter Horton), Billy Flynn and Rusty Zinn deliver the magical guitar interplay that Muddy himself once etched out alongside Jimmy Rogers, and Barrelhouse Chuck’s piano summons up the ghost of the great Otis Spann with some gorgeous ivory-tickling. With Steve Gomes and Robb Stupka rock solid on bass and drums, we really are transported back to 2120 S. Michigan Avenue during the golden era of Chicago blues.

Across 14 of some of Muddy’s best songs, Mud and the band hit their stride straight away and deliver a thrilling re-creation. Few of the song choices are the obvious ones but they are invariably the right selections, amply demonstrating both sides of the great man’s genius: the way he electrified and urbanised traditional country blues songs and themes (like the stirring Still A Fool and haunting She Moves Me); and how he formed a uniquely new sound altogether (check out the swinging band on I Don’t Know Why and the bump ‘n grind of My Dog Can’t Bark).

Some purists may be a bit sniffy at such a re-creation but I for one am thankful that, in this day and age, there are still musicians around who can play the great Chicago blues of yesteryear as well as this. And, more importantly, still make it all sound so triumphantly fresh, exciting and enjoyable.

Review Date: August 2014

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