The Athology

 

Muddy Waters…the great blues-man who inspired the chorus of the greatest Bob Dylan song, the name of one of the world’s most famous rock bands, and also named the world’s most influential rock music magazine…all from one famous lyric (“Sho nuff, he’s a rollin’ stone”).  Historically, Muddy Waters is one of the most influential musicians ever…yet I had never bothered to listen to him much until I purchased this anthology from Amazon for the steep price of $19.73 (at least I bought it before Amazon raised their shipping rates!).  But for that price, you get 50 tracks that span his entire career, so its not such a bad deal.

This starts off similarly to the Robert Johnson set with very straight-forward Mississippi Delta blues style songs that show off Muddy’s guitar chops.  However, as you get farther into the set, Muddy progresses to a full blues band sound (apparently out of necessity from playing in loud Chicago blues clubs) and eventually he develops into a full bar rock sound with a country influence.  At this later point in his career, he stops playing guitar and focuses exclusively on his singing.  However, the guitar work doesn’t suffer at all in this latter stage of his career, as Jimmy Rogers picks up the slack.  Buddy Guy even makes an appearance on a couple of the tracks near the end of the anthology.  This is a pretty massive set (over 2 and half hours worth of music) but the variety keeps it interesting, and from a historical perspective, virtually every famous blues lick is represented here somewhere.

Other lists: Four songs from this set make the Rolling Stone list of the Top 500 Songs of All-Time: “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man” at #226, “Mannish Boy” at #230, “Got My Mojo Working” at #368, and “Rollin’ Stone” at #465.  Rolling Stone (the magazine) also ranks Muddy as the #17 Greatest Artist, the #53 Greatest Singer, and the #49 Greatest Guitarist (Buddy Guy, who plays on two tracks on this anthology, beats him out at #23).

My favorite track: “I Just Want to Make Love to You”

Honorable mention: “Mannish Boy”

Quote: “Now when I was a young boy, at the age of five, my mother said I would be the greatest man alive.  But now I’m a man, I made 21.  I want you to believe me honey, we havin’ lots of fun!”

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