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August 2014

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Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson
For Pops (A Tribute to Muddy Waters)
Severn Records

Mud Morganfield and Kim Wilson

As Muddy Waters’ 100th birthday approaches, blues fans can expect to be inundated with tribute albums, DVD’s, and live performances, but few will approach the authenticity of this collaboration between Waters’ son, Mud Morganfield, and harmonica player Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. The pair, who both record for Severn Records, have issued For Pops (A Tribute to Muddy Waters), a disc that will please any fan of Waters’ music.

If a project of this type seems like a no-brainer to you, rest assured that many in the blues world agree. Severn Records president David Earl reported that after Morganfield’s last CD (Son of the 7th Son) and the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ On The Verge, he received a flood of emails and phone calls requesting that these two artists be brought together. Guitarists Billy Flynn and Rusty Zinn, and piano man Barrelhouse Chuck were brought into the fold, along with the outstanding Severn house rhythm section (Steve Gomes – bass, Robb Stupka – drums). The decision to cast the project as a tribute to Muddy Waters came later and it was a wise one.

The 14-song track list consists of songs written by or associated with Waters over his long career, both better-known (“I Love The Life I Live, I Live The Life I Love,” “She Moves Me,” “Nineteen Years Old,” “I Just Want To Make Love To You”) and lesser-known tunes (“I Don’t Know Why,” “My Dog Can’t Bark,” “Just To Be With You,” “Still A Fool,” “She’s Got It”) were included to impress upon the listener the vast range and scope of Waters’ musical catalog.

I really like the smoking opening track, “Gone To Main Street,” the jumping “My Dog Can’t Bark” and “Blow Wind Blow,” and “Trouble No More,” but these tracks are jewels among jewels, to be honest. There’s really not a bad track in the bunch.

If you’re a fan of the classic Chess-era sound, you will love this release. Morganfield’s vocals are outstanding….it’s almost like his father is behind the mic on many of these tracks, while Wilson (who played with Waters frequently back in the day) and the band bring those classic days back to life with their backing. The session was recorded “live” in the studio with all the instruments recorded in the same room at the same time and the interplay between the musicians is really impressive.

Hats off to Severn Records for bringing this project to fruition. Hopefully, Morganfield and Wilson will grace us with another collaboration in the near future, but one thing is for sure --- Muddy Waters would be tremendously proud of this tribute.

--- Graham Clarke



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