These two excellent CDs,
released by Document Records, both have alternative titles.
In the case of Muddy Waters, it's Library Of Congress Recordings 1941
-1942 & Early Commercial Recordings 1946 - 1950, and for Son House it's
The Legendary 1969 Rochester Sessions.
Both CDs make a "must have" addition to any serious blues fan's
collection, providing a great insight into the work of these two blues
stalwarts, both through the music itself, and through the well written
The tracks from 1941 & 1942 were mainly recorded on the Stovall Plantation in Mississippi by the legendary Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress (three tracks were recorded in nearby Clarksdale) and comprise the first 13 tracks on the CD.
It's interesting to hear the rough originals of tracks that later became Muddy Waters standards, such as "You Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" and "I Be's Troubled," and to hear Muddy playing with a small group using fiddles and mandolins (The Son Sims Four). Have a listen to "Take A Walk With Me" ("Sweet Home Chicago" with a few different words) where Muddy plays with Son Sims and Charles Berry (Muddy's brother-in-law).
On the version of "Mean Red Spider" included here, Muddy is listed as James "Sweet Lucy" Carter, and it would seem that this is one of the first recordings that Muddy made in Chicago in 1946.
As well as the Muddy solo work, there are some superb line-ups included, with musicians such as Homer Harris, Ransom Knowling, Judge Riley, James "Beale Street" Clarke, Baby Face Leroy, Little Walter etc. showing the formation of the early Muddy Waters band.
There are two versions of "Country Blues" (based on the tune of "Walking Blues") and two versions of "Rollin & Tumblin," listed here as parts 1 & 2, and it's fascinating to listen to Muddy improvising and changing things around on these two tunes.
The recording quality, in the main, is very good, taking into account the
recording dates, some of them over 60 years ago!
Having said that, for Son House fans it's an absolute must.
These recordings (one of them including Son's wife Evie on tambourine) were made in his home in Rochester, New York in 1969 by Steve Lobb, just prior to Son's second European tour.
The magic of the man, & his National steel guitar, shines through on
tracks like "Shetland Pony Blues," "Mister Suzie Q" & particularly on the
all time classic "Preachin' The Blues" (the best version I've heard).
The CD contains 12 tracks (plus a "spoken message" ), starting with an incredible 20 minute version of "Son's Blues," and running through a mix of short and long tracks, giving a good idea of what this blues legend was all about.
--- Terry Clear
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