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February 2012

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Mud Morganfield
Son Of The Seventh Son
Severn Records

Mud Morganfield

The resemblance is uncanny. Not only does Mud Morganfield look like his legendary father, Muddy Waters, but his voice has the same tonal quality. Not having seen the younger Morganfield in person before and not heaving heard either of his two previous CDs, I wasn't ready for what emanated from my speakers when I hit the Play button on his latest album, Son Of The Seven Son (Severn Records). For a brief moment I thought I was hearing Muddy again.

The difference in the two Morganfields is that the 21st century version's voice doesn't have the power or depth of that of his father. But to be honest with you, I can't think of many singers that can do what Muddy could do. The senior Morganfield was truly unique, and to compare Mud to his father would be doing this fine blueman a disservice.

Son Of The Seventh Son was produced by Phoenix blues entrepreneur Bob Corritore, a native of the Windy City who came back home and assembled a solid Chicago-style band for this session. Billy Flynn and Rick Kreher share guitar duties, Barrelhouse Chuck handles piano and organ, E.G. McDaniel plays bass, Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith keeps the beat on the drums (just like his father, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, did for Muddy's band a generation ago), and producer Corritore and Harmonica Hinds share the essential harmonica accompaniment.

There's no mistaking that this disc has that iconic Muddy Waters sound --- there's just no avoiding it when Morganfield is behind the microphone. But by doing seven of his own compositions and covering only one Muddy song ("You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had"), Morganfield proves that he's a fine singer and songwriter in his own right.

The CD begins with a frantic version of J.T. Brown's "Short Dress Woman" (also covered by Muddy on his Folk Singer album), featuring a very nice piano solo from Barrelhouse Chuck. Morganfield puts a nice finish to the song by shouting out, "Oh honey, you're killing me.'

The title cut, written by Chicago artist Studebaker John Grimaldi, follows --- it's a slow blues that continues Muddy's narrative from the Willie Dixon original, "Seventh Son." Corritore contributes just the right hoodoo harmonica riffs in the background. Morganfield takes his vocals to the next level on his first original number on the disc, the playful shuffle "Love To Flirt." Hinds steps in on harmonica accompaniment here and acquits himself well.

Barrelhouse Chuck switches over to organ for another Morganfield original blues, "Catfishing," giving this one a little more of a 1960s almost psychedelic groove. "Health" continues with that same sound as Morganfield sings about the value of good health --- kind of a retro musical vibe with more of a current day topic.

Blues history is full of songs about trains, and Morganfield's got his own original number, "Loco Motor," with Corritore blowing a nice harp solo while also contributing the required train whistle sounds. Barrelhouse Chuck comes in with a nice piano solo, too.

Guitarist Flynn contributes one of his own compositions, "Money (Can't Buy Everything)," with Barrelhouse Chuck moving back over to the organ for a smokin' solo midway through this blues shuffle. There's also some nice slide guitar licks from Flynn.

Morganfield's voice goes into a higher range for the slow blues, "Midnight Lover," as he sings about coming home to confront his wife about her romantic dalliance with the man next door. Barrelhouse Chuck plays some very tasteful late night piano here, and the guitar work is exquisite. A very nice cut.

Corritore wrote the next number, the mid-tempo "Go Ahead And Blame Me," and also blows a strong harp solo. Morganfield sounds even more like his father here --- it's really amazing. As we head into the home stretch, the band picks up the tempo on still another Morganfield original, "Leave Me Alone," which gives Corritore still another opportunity to show off his blues harmonica expertise.

A very nice slide guitar solo from Flynn provides the intro on the lone song written by Muddy, the slow, swampy blues "You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had." This is one that the blues guitar fans will like.

Closing out Son Of The Seventh Son is a mid-tempo blues shuffle, "Blues In My Shoes," which gives everyone in the band one more chance to shine behind Morganfield.

I passed up an opportunity to see Morganfield live last year because of a scheduling conflict --- I guarantee that won't happen again when I'm given the next opportunity. For now, I'll be content with listening to this album over and over. It's already a candidate for best blues CD of 2012. Highly recommended!

--- Bill Mitchell


 

 

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