muddy waters Content tagged as muddy waters.
In the last couple of years this UK-based Canadian-born singer-songwriter (aka Ben Darvill, formerly of Crash Test Dummies) has conjured up the spirit and sound of old bluesmen punctuated with raw harmonica and to his beatbox vocalising or the thump of his shoes on the floor.
He's played a couple of hundred live gigs ("on four...
Some years ago the estimable Network label released the groundbreaking Desert Blues collection of music from the Sahara region, a superb double disc in a beautiful and informative long-form package.
This re-release of the similarly conceived collection of the music of the various slavery cultures of the Americas is its equal: two discs of...
Some might say that the last thing the world needs right now is another live Stones collection.
After all Get Yer Ya Ya's Out (released a whopping 38 years go!) is the hardcore fan's classic, and we've had Love You Live, Still Life, Flashpoint, Stripped and No Security since. And it was only four years ago that we had Live Licks, a...
Yes, and that's me with the quote on the back cover of this excellent collection by longstanding Wellington bluesman Dave Murphy.Here's what I say: "The blues is a music made by people who have struggled, have hard and true stories to tell and do so in a voice that is compelling. Dave Murphy, 35 years a journeyman on New Zealand's blues...
The intersection of highways 61 and 49 near Clarksdale in northwest Mississippi doesn't look particularly special: there's a car yard, a service station, a couple of kids listlessly kicking a ball outside Abe's barbecue shop . . . Just the usual stuff.
The only thing to distinguish it from hundreds of other such intersections in the state is...
When McKinley Morganfield’s grandmother named him Muddy after the nearby Mississippi and he later took the surname Waters, there seemed something oddly symbolic in it. Here was man who wasn’t born in the year he said he was, claimed a town he wasn’t born in as his birthplace and carried a name he wasn’t born with....
"I'm still at the beginning of my life and career,” says 67-year old guitarist John McLaughlin. “I don’t really think much about what I’ve
done, I don’t have much time to think about what I’ve
a worn out phrase, but today is a brand new day and there is a lot to do -- but...
We have been down this occasionally interesting path previously with the Chrome Dreams label which has delivered DVDs about bands such as the Small Faces, the whole German electronic movement (Kraftwerk, Can et al) and Frank Zappa, as well as CDs of Bob Dylan's jukebox and a compilation of his Radio Hour music (no intros by Bob though).
They didn't call him Long John for nothing. Standing more than 2m tall, John Baldry was a towering figure in British r'n'b during the 60s.
Alongside John Mayall, Long John Baldry was a kingmaker whose various groups included the young Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts, later of the Rolling Stones, and the 16-year-old Jimmy Page (Led...
The live album -- or double live as was standard in the days of vinyl -- has had a chequered history in rock: some live albums defined an artists career (Frampton Comes Alive, Thin Lizzy's Live and Dangerous) and others added little to the sum of our knowledge (most of Dylan's).
Some artists regularly drop live albums (Paul McCartney, who...
Writing about music is a sedentary affair today: CDs are reviewed at home, and artists are interviewed by phone, in a comfortable hotel or their record company office. Latterly, to my regret, it has been like that for me -- but not so for Cartwright whose previous book Princes Amongst Men saw him on the road in some bad and strange parts of...
Although the blues can be a sophisticated music, there's something more earthy, vibrant and appealing about it when it is played from somewhere further south than the cerebral cortext.
Hound Dog Taylor played from a point somewhere between the heart, the gut and the groin -- and made the most thrilling music to come out of the Chicago blues...
When this out-of-the-blue single raced around the globe at the height of Beatlemania it sounded like a typically gimmicky hit of the period.
The band name, Sam wearing a turban and the group dressed like Arabs didn't exactly deny it.
You might have expected them to disappear immediately.
But they didn't.
They came back with a...
Blues and jazz artists often used coded language to get their lyrics past record companies and radio programmers, so you would get a song like When I'm In My Tea (by Jo-Jo Adams, 1946) about marijuana or Dope Head Blues by Victoria Spivey about cocaine.
Coded sex was everywhere . . . although there is no mistaking the meaning of songs like...
Whatever his style was, fame had no interest in embracing it. The closest this rockabilly blues screamer -- who started in the mid Fifties -- came to wider recognition was when the Cramps covered his song She Said and some of his music appeared in the film White Lightin'.
But for Hasil (pronounced "hassle"), he just had to make do...
While it may have been possible to make an even more superficial DVD of the Stones' career than this, it would take a bit more laziness.
Relying on newsreel footage, a few talking heads and with no access to their music, what you get here is a fast trip through their fortysomething year career with most of the emphasis on the Sixties and...
From the opening track on this remarkable collection -- a testifying scream of faith recorded in 1934 which calls to mind Little Richard and Hasel Adkins as much as African chants -- you are offered evidence of the old saying/song, "the blues had a baby and they called it rock'n'roll".
Just as Blind Willie Johnson (here with...
Various Artists: The History of Rhythm and Blues 1942-52 (Rhythmandbluesrecords/Southbound 4 CD Set)
If the previous collection in this excellent series -- which went from country blues in the Twenties to swing, boogie and jump jive in the early Forties -- laid out the ground, this equally fine (and fun) set picks up the pace and moves from the clubs of Harlem into proto-rock'n'roll.
In the early part of the first disc (entitled Jumpin'...
Here follows a broad outline of the growth and development of rhythm and blues, courtesy of Rhythm and Blues Records in the UK, a company which specialises in this music.
1877 Invention of the Phonograph
1883 Racist coon songs introduced into vaudeville and burlesque
1896 Jim Crow Segregation laws
The old joke -- usually applied to the death of Elvis -- is “good career move”.
Death sells, just ask -- if you could -- Elvis, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Otis Redding, John Lennon and Kurt Cobain who saw their record sales soar after their deaths. Or would have, if they could have.
As a magazine cover said of Jim Morrison:...
Sammy Price, who had been the house pianist on Decca sessions in the Forties (and played with the likes of Sister Rosetta Tharpe) among many other things, told me a very funny story which I remember to this day.
He'd been in Chicago and after a recording session the manager of the European record company wouldn't pay him. No money, Sammy,...
You can't say you weren't warned. A couple of years back when he released his '02' album Elsewhere said you'd be hearing more of this human beat-box, one-man foot-stompin' blues band which is Ben Darvill.
Here recorded by Steve Albini in Chicago he once more abuses that harmonica, makes his own percussion and becomes a wall-shakin'...
English musician John Mayall repeats his familiar refrain: he’s
never had “a hit record, never won and Grammy and isn’t in the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame“.
76 and having played professionally for more than 45 years he might
have reasonably expected one or more of those. But in 2005 he did get
They used to say
“when the times get tough, the songs get soft” – but hard times
is good times for the blues which articulates the concerns of the
the US economic downturn means hard times which this 70-year old,
electric and electrifying guitarist/singer from Texas (on a Chicago
For a brief period before they shortened their name to Chicago and became boring -- and for my money it was very brief, and they became very boring -- this big group with an ever-changing but hardly memorable line-up were a tanked-up rock band.
Their debut album in '69 was a double, they had a political edge as befitted the volatile times...
Few albums in rock have been so surrounded in dark mythology as this sprawling double album which was the last great gasp of the Rolling Stones.
Certainly subsequent albums -- Goats Head Soup, It's Only Rock'n'Roll and Black and Blue particularly -- had their great moments but (aside from Jagger's embrace of New York dance and Richards'...
The first two volumes in this 4-CD series which traces the history of old style r'n'b have already been acclaimed at Elsewhere here and here respectively.
These multi-genre, colour-blind, cross-label and highly inclusive collections not only cherry pick the most significant artists and songs in the growth of r'n'b but also intelligently...
From the same label which has brought the superb 4-CD sets of rhythm and blues (here) comes this equally excellent 26-song collection of post-war material which had soaked in a Latin rumba-shuffle influence.
And when you look at who is here, that influence was considerable and across a wide range of artists: T-Bone Walker; the Johnny Otis...
Subtitled “Early Black Rock'n'Roll”
these two parallel volumes (Roll is 1948-58, Rat is
1949-59) pick up some classic, dirty, thrilling rock'n'roll from the
time before and through the Elvis Presley years, but often sound much
more scandalising and sexualised than even The King.
So across these two discs – and you
Albums are usually far too long these days, and this is no exception -- but just when you think you might lose interest here the Keys pull out another angle: around the midpoint there are some superbly dark and soulful blues (Ten Cent Pistol, Sinister Kid) which sound steeped in Howlin' Wolf/Muddy Waters, then a new classic on The Go Getter...
Keith Richards once offered a neat observations of Mick Jagger: "Mick's a lovely bunch of blokes."
Jagger, by all acounts, has that uncanny ability to switch his langauge and accent depending on who he is talking to: with the turn of his head he can go from plum-in-mouth when chatting with a lord or lady to a Jamaican accent if the...
Todd Rundgren laughs as he predicts
the end the current model of on-line music sales which will disappear
like the Sony Walkman and vinyl singles: “Because some songs are
priceless, some songs are worthless . . . and some songs are worth
exactly 99 cents”.
He should know. In a 40-plus year
career he's made songs, and whole...
First, there is no Vol 1 or Vol 2, but this addition to Taylor's catalogue of "trance blues" which follows the excellent Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs of last year is certainly a welcome one.
Taylor takes a very different view of the blues: while others see it as an idiom with strict stylistic codes if not chord progressions,...
Singer Wilson from North Carolina is yet another of those US blues (and jazz) artists who found a more sympathetic and profitable environment in Europe and these days operates out of Germany playing festivals and clubs across the Continent.
Ironically -- because he grew up in the church, listened to country music at home and joined the army...
The blues goes in cycles of visibility: there were those great days of the late Forties/Fifties in the South and the early Sixties in Chicago; the British blues boom of the early/mid Sixties (John Mayall, Clapton, the first Fleetwood Mac etc) and then . . .
You can tick them off just by a name alone: Alligator Records (Hound Dog Taylor and...
It has been almost half a century since
Elmore James bent over to pull up his socks before going out to play
in an Chicago nightclub . . . and went face down on to the floor with his
third and final heart attack.
Although he was not widely known, the
world lost a good one who left an immense legacy.
James had an agonised vocal style...
Record companies are usually at their best when close to the street, turnlng up talent rather than just distributing it.
The Chess label was so close to the street it felt the sweat. Polish immigrant brothers Leonard and Phil Chess owned clubs around Chicago and from the late 40s started recording some of the most formative R & B and...
Eric Clapton has made a somewhat sudden appearance in the past month with a survey of his early career here, the album with John Mayall and also his Journeyman popping up as a Bargain Buy.
Now by coincidence this interesting -- and rather detailed -- overview of his rapid career in the Sixties (Yardbirds, Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith)...
It's been far too long between albums for Wellington blues-rocker Watson -- frontman-guitarist for Chicago Smokeshop, later simply Smokeshop -- because his excellent South Pacific Soul album (under his own name) was five years ago.
In some ways Watson has mellowed, inasmuch as the vocals and guitar work here are taut as if the passions are...
Buddy Guy is talking about his club
Legends in his home town of Chicago. Every Sunday and Monday it is
open for all-comers, just sign at the door, get up there and play
Since Guy won a Grammy for his raw and
soulful Damn Right I Got The Blues album this year, he’s seen a few
more up-and-corners through the door.
The great Guy has been one of blues' most enduring and endearing characters: he upstaged the Stones in his cameo slot on their Shine A Light doco, and way back influenced Hendrix.
He's been picking up awards for the past couple of decades, but unlike some others who have become part of the institution (and tailor albums for awards, as...
Most reviews of this frequently funny, sometimes insightful and too often rambling autobiography -- Keith + tape recorder + ghost writer Fox -- have concentrated on the obvious: the sniping at Mick Jagger which occurs a little in the first three-quarters but reaches a peak in the final throes where the autobiography/chronological account runs...
It's well known that Jimi Hendrix didn't have much business sense, but he sure knew how to play guitar. This track -- one of about 60 recorded with the little known singer/guitarist Curtis Knight at a small studio in New York -- is a measure of both.
Hendrix -- at that time Jimmy James -- had recently been fired from Little Richard's touring...
In 1964 the Isley Brothers – a
doo-wop/r'n'b outfit from Cincinnati who had scored a hit with Twist
and Shout – were playing a show in a baseball stadium in
Bermuda. They had their own in-built support act, they simply sent
their band out to warm up the crowd. But on this night there was
whooping from the audience and a guy came...
Aside from the obvious reason (40th anniversaries), there is another explanation for some much Stones stuff from the late Sixties/early Seventies: that was when they became the bad boy phenomenon which most people associate with them. There is also a lot of footage and music, and by the late Seventies and early Eighties things were less...
When the mobile recording studio was parked outside the Fillmore on New York's 2nd Avenue in March 1971 to record this double vinyl Allman Brothers Band album it was both a beginning and an ending: it was last concert at Bill Graham's Fillmore East (also on the bill were Albert King and the J Geils Band) but also the start of the Allman's ascent...
Scroll down the Wikipedia entry for
Gregg Allman and two things will surprise: first how brief it is for
a musician who has lived such a full, creative and often dangerously
And second the interestingly inexact sentence
which reads, “Allman has been married at least six times . . .”
By the time he was...
John Lennon once said the blues was a
chair. Not a fancy chair, just the first chair.
No, it doesn't make much sense - but
you know what he means. And by making this analogy he placed himself
alongside a swag of blues artists who have their own pithy statement:
the blues is a feeling, the blues is healing music, and so on.
The Doobies' great Listen to the
Music, Long Train Running and
China Grove in the late 60s/early 70s were driven by urgent
guitars and hammering keyboards delivering a forward momentum (which
denied the stoner reference of their chosen name).
But surely no old
fans could fall for the limp, lame and geriatric opener here A
At 90, the great and late-discovered bluesman T-Model Ford still sounds like he is one man who isn't going to let the road of life weary him.
Here with his touring band GravelRoad, he delivers a short sharp shock: eight songs, two hitting past the seven minute mark, closing with a nasty-edged Little Red Rooster. This is roadhouse blues which...
By 1964 when the British blues explosion was starting to take off, the great and tetchy Son House was living in retirement and spent most of days drinking. He hadn't played much since his friend Willie Brown had died more than a decade previous.
He'd preached some but mostly got drunk, he hadn't played guitar in five years.
But when his...
Judge a band by its cover? Sure, why not?
Here the raucous blues-rock duo of guitarist Freddy J IV and drummer Brenn "Sauasage Paw" Beck out of Indiana are almost horizontal in a bathroom sharing a bottle of Jameson whisky on the inner sleeve of the cover, and the album features tracks with the titles Lost My Mind, 24HR, Weed Vodka,...
In his excellent book More Miles
Than Money, subtitled “journeys through American music”, the
expat London-based writer Garth Cartwright meets Bruce Iglauer who
founded the Alligator blues label in Chicago which became that city's
most important label after Chess went belly-up in 1975.
As Cartwright notes, the label was home...
Darren Watson of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, has long been a multiple-threat; powerful and souldful singer; excellent blues guitarist; great songwriter.
He first came to attention in Chicago Smokeshop (an appropriate name for a blues band from another city full of politicians) which later became Smokeshop, and released a series...
From the back row of Chicago's United Centre, about four storeys above the stage, Mick Jagger - not the biggest of men anyway - is the size of a matchstick held at arm's length.But even without his roadmap features projected on the screen behind him, this is undeniable Mick. He struts'n'thrusts across the stage and still possesses that animal...
Blues singer Geeshie Wylie -- probably not her real name, more likely a nickname because she was of the Gullah people of South Carolina and Georgia -- recorded even fewer songs than Robert Johnson.
Just six known recordings and no photograph of her exists either.
She may have been with a traveling medicine show in the Twenties but, other...
Although the Stones' psychedelic album Their Satanic Majesties Request of late '67 has taken a bad rap, they didn't entirely abandon the trippy sound even as they put it behind them and moved into a more blues-based rock for their next single Jumpin' Jack Flash and the album Beggar's Banquet (which had Street Fighting Man on it).
When he was just nine – 26 years ago
– Ben Waters briefly saw something in a pub which changed his life.
He was at his auntie and uncle's 25th wedding anniversary
in the Wynyard Gap in Somerset, just across the border from his home
county of Dorset, and the great pianist Ian Stewart was a family
friend who sat down and played...
When the Beatles and the Stones covered songs by black American artists on their early albums and championed Motown soul (Beatles) and Chicago blues singers (Stones) they undoubtedly drew attention to the genius which many locals had overlooked.
The Stones' early shows and albums were stacked with songs by Chuck Berry (Come On, their...
One of the assertions on the cover of
this album – released in 69, reissued after a long absence –
isn't true. Bluesman Howlin' Wolf had been an “early adopter” of
What is true is he didn't care for this album (“dog
shit” was his considered judgment) which had him being made over in...
Not a lot is known about the Mississippi-based country-blues and gospel singer Boyd Rivers who died in '93, but his growling voice seems to belong to a much older time.
He was born near the town of Pickens in December '43 and after being injured at his casket-making job in '72 he lived off his music and the pay-out. He was also a Reverend....
In 2002 after a Rolling Stones concert in Chicago I asked my friend, who lived in the city, to take me down to 2120 South Michigan Avenue, the old home of Chess Records.
Aside from wanting to see this legendary place where Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, Etta James, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon once held court, I also half thought...
In June 1964, when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were still only 20, the Rolling Stones took time out from their short American tour to head into the famous Chess studios at 2120 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
With famed engineer Ron Malo, who had worked with many of the blues giants who had walked through Chess, they recorded five songs...
When veteran British bluesman John
Mayall played the Civic in Auckland in 2010, the concert was both disappointing
and crowd-pleasing. Disappointing because, although professionally
executed, it failed to really take flight. Crowd-pleasing because he
played his hits.
The joke, of course, is Mayall has
never had hits and at 77 it seems...
From the moment Jimi Hendrix arrived in London in the early hours of September 24 1966 to his death in the same city just a few days short of four years later, he seemed to be constantly moving, playing and recording.
He played his first jam in London the night he arrived, and a fortnight later -- after jamming with the Brian Auger Trinity,...
Although you never need an excuse to play this strutting Willie Dixon-penned classic from Chess Records' studio with the great Koko Taylor growling her way through it, it does seem timely on this very day as Tom Waits' new album Bad As Me has a terrific track inspired in part by its raw spirit.
Waits' Satisfied might nod to the Rolling...
Oddly enough, this is not the best time to talk to 64-year-old bluesman Buddy Guy - despite him having released Sweet Tea, one of the finest albums in his long career.It is days after the death of his contemporary John Lee Hooker and Guy is understandably philosophical rather than keen to talk up his new album which was, uncharacteristically for...
The early albums by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones appeared in different versions in Britain and the States. New Zealand being a colony thankfully got the UK versions for the most part, just as the gods intended.
But in some instances we got something different from both -- and in this case, better.
The album The Unstoppable Stones...
With an American history over a century long, the blues isn't easy an easy journey to begin on: do you go at it chronologically from slave chants and field hollers, or work back from white popularisers like George Thorogood, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Led Zeppelin?
Given that most people live in what we might call the post-rock era it might be...
With his royal surname, a 60-year career which has earned him Godfather status, a sophisticated demeanour and dapper suits, and his own chain of nightclubs it is hard to see BB King as an earthy and edgy blueman: the guy who used to play 300 nights a year, who has fathered at least a dozen children to as many different women, the...
Those who were there say everything changed when he walked in the room and started to play. He’d been away a long time -- learning guitar was what they said -- but the last time anyone had seen him he was an uppity kid and not that good.
You can imagine how it must have been that Saturday night in a small run-down club in Banks,...
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