Blues Bytes

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June 2018

Mud Morganfield
They Call Me Mud
Severn Records

Mud Morganfield

For his latest release, Mud Morganfield takes a slightly different approach. They Call Me Mud (Severn Records) includes a couple of marvelous tributes to the music of Morganfield’s father, Muddy Waters, presented in the son’s amazingly comparable vocal style with appropriate backing from a few of Chicago’s finest musicians (Studebaker John Grimaldi, Mike Wheeler, Melvin “Pookie Stix” Carlisle, E.G. McDaniel, Billy Flynn, Billy Branch, and Sumito Ariyo Ariyoshi). But there’s also a definite shift to the urban side of the blues that he grew up listening to, with healthy doses of R&B, soul, and funk mixed in.

For traditional blues fans, there’s plenty to enjoy with Morganfield’s two terrific covers of Waters classics, “Howling Wolf” and “Can’t Get No Grindin’,” along with the horn-driven title track which leans more toward Memphis blues à la B.B. King with some stinging guitar fills, the urban blues “48 Days,” the driving “Oh Yeah,” and “24 Hours,” a sweaty blues funk number. Morganfield’s vocals retain the qualities that he shared with his father, but he has his own distinctive style that stands out as well.

The more soul-oriented numbers include “Cheatin’ Is Cheatin’,” a solid soul burner, “Who’s Foolin’ Who?,” which has the feel of ’70s funk, the R&B ballad “Who Loves You” (a duet teaming Morganfield with his daughter Lashunda Williams), the jumping “Rough Around The Edge” and “Walkin’ Cane,” both of which blend blues and R&B, and the instrumental closer, “Mud’s Groove,” which flirts with jazz and features Branch on harmonica.

The entire band sounds fantastic, with the Chicago contingent being joined by producer/guitarist Rick Kreher and the excellent horn section (Phil Perkins – trumpet, and Michael Jackson – sax).

Mud Morganfield may not ever escape the formidable shadow cast by his father, and, to be honest, I’m not sure if he would even want to, but he really proves that he’s a versatile performer who’s more than capable of branching out into the R&B and soul venues, both as a performer and a songwriter. They Call Me Mud puts his talents on full display and is must-listening for blues and soul fans.

--- Graham Clarke



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