Blues Bytes


August 2006

an associate

Order this CD today  

Muddy Waters
Hard Again
CBS/Blue Sky

Muddy Waters - Hard Again

Hard Again, the first of four albums Muddy Waters recorded for CBS's Blue Sky subsidiary, was also the first of four collaborations with guitarist Johnny Winter. Waters' band at the time (1977) included guitarist Bob Margolin, drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, and legendary piano man Pinetop Perkins, and they were all present for the recording. Waters asked James Cotton to play on the album too, and the harp wizard brought along his bassist, Charles Calmese.

Though Waters had been recording pretty regularly for Chess throughout most of the '60s, the music trends of the day were moving in a different direction. During most of the ’60s, the label started experimented with his sound with varying results (Electric Mud, anyone?), and even his more traditional releases during this time seemed to indicate that his glory days of the late '40s and early '50s seemed far behind him. With Hard Again, the passion seemed to resurface and it was like he was 32 again instead of 62.

Waters didn’t play guitar during these sessions, but it doesn't really matter. The duo of Winter and Margolin are incredible as they plunge through a set consisting of Waters standards as well as some compelling new songs, complementing each other perfectly throughout.

Cotton, too, is awe-inspiring, sometimes sounding like he's going to blow the back off his harmonica on "Mannish Boy" and other tracks like “Bus Driver,” and the rowdy "The Blues Had A Baby And They Named It Rock and Roll (#2)." The always underrated Smith and Calmese provide a steady bottom to the proceedings, and Pinetop is Pinetop, enough said. These guys had been together so long that they had each other’s moves down pat.

The opening cut, "Mannish Boy," has been heard on movies, TV shows, and commercials almost non-stop for over 20 years and with good reason. It's an incendiary track, as fiery as anything Waters ever recorded. Vocally, he's confident and at the top of his game. Winter backs up Waters’ singing with assorted whoops and hollers on this and other tracks that further enhance the live feel of the album, not to mention the bond of friendship the musicians shared. Various snippets of dialogue and banter are present on several of the tracks.

The track list includes the above mentioned songs and other standouts like a redo of “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” which features some exceptional guitar by Winter, and the original closer (a remake of “Walking Through The Park” closes the expanded edition released in 2004), “Little Girl,” a seven-minute blues opus with some great harp by Cotton.

Hard Again is as strong a recording as anything Waters did with the Chess label, probably due to the camaraderie between the performers. Listening to this recording, you’re absolutely positive that these guys had a ball making this record, which was Winter’s goal in making these records with Waters: to make recording as fun for Waters as it was in the early days of Chess….no bells, no whistles, just the blues.

Muddy Waters and Johnny Winter teamed up for three more albums for Blue Sky, and while they were all good, solid recordings, none of them approached the level of Hard Again, which showed that the old tiger still had plenty left in the tank.

--- Graham Clarke


[Pick Hit][What's New][Surprise][Flashback][Feedback][Back Issues][Home Page]



The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: July 31, 2006 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2006, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.