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  • Waters Muddy - Can`t Be Satisfied (DVD)


    There could hardly be a better subject for a documentary than arguably the greatest bluesman of the last century, and this look at the life, times, and music of McKinley Muddy Waters” Morganfield doesn’t disappoint. Coproduced and codirected by Robert Gordon, the 54-minute documentary is a nice companion piece to Gordon’s book of the same name. It includes some bio material, tracing Waters’s evolution from a sharecropping acoustic folk singer to a sharp-dressing, Chicago-based leader of one of the greatest electric bands ever, along with reminiscences and accolades from friends, family, and fellow musicians like Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, and Buddy Guy. There’s music, too, of course, but if the program has a drawback, it’s that there are no complete performances of the deep, dirty blues–”Hoochie Coochie Man,” ”Mannish Boy,” and so on–that earned him immortality. Then again, there are innumerable recordings, including several ”best ofs,” to address that problem. –Sam Graham”

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  • Waters Muddy - Got My Mojo Working-Rare Performances 1968-1978 (DVD)


    Die-hard Muddy Waters fans will welcome this 12-song, 54-minute compilation of excellent live performances, but for an introduction to the legendary bluesman’s music, blues neophytes may wish to look elsewhere (perhaps to In Concert 1971). Culled from three separate videotaped concerts for German television (from 1968, ’74, and ’78), these recordings are modest in quality (mono mixed for two-channel stereo), while the visuals provide routine two- or three-camera studio coverage. But these are indeed rare performances” as the packaging promises, and they show Muddy Waters and his exceptional hand-picked sidemen in the prime of their latter-day incarnations, after acknowledgement by the Rolling Stones and other fast-rising rockers led to Muddy’s renaissance period as the father of modern blues.

    The indisputable highlight here is the ’78 performance of ”Mannish Boy,” in which Muddy rips into a gospel-like delivery of one of his greatest signature songs. Pianist Pinetop Perkins joins in for a fun romp on ”Caldonia” (giving a bluesy alternative to the better-known Louis Jordan versions), and Muddy’s slide guitar (particularly on the title track) is as good as it ever was. Likewise for his vocals–they grew richer, deeper, and more commanding with age. It’s a shame this Shanachie/Yazoo DVD doesn’t provide liner notes or details about these specific performances, but this is electric blues in its purest form, from its purest practitioner, and we can be grateful these recordings have survived for posterity. –Jeff Shannon

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