MUDDY WATERS: Can’t Get No Grindin’ (What’s The Matter With The Meal); Garbage Man (Chess CH 2143).
The Blues singer who launched a thousand careers, Muddy Waters was at the height of his own career during the mid-‘50s in America and during the early-‘60s in Britain, the latter being the period when he influenced every so-called “R&B”-er from the Rolling Stones on down. He’s still admired of course, mainly as the leader of a legendarily tight Blues band, but with the passing of the white Blues boom his name is heard much less frequently. All that could change now! This, the title track from his latest US LP, finds Muddy in good voice, his extremely tight band in superbly tight and concise form, and the addition of a Ray Charles-ish electric piano in amongst the more traditional instrumentation: so what’s different? The intensely pounding power, that’s what! Under, over and right through everything there’s an unremitting gut-shaking booming bass the likes of which you’ve never heard, cutting through that is the spiky acidity of the electric piano and a spurt of obligatory mouth harp, while in amongst it all the dry-sounding guitars chink and scrub away to produce an important counterpoint to the dominating bass. Add Muddy’s bouncy voice with some good-time call-and-answer response from the group, and the overall result is spelt E-X-C-I-T-E-M-E-N-T! It’s all so simple and yet so right. Few if any other recording stars could produce so much from so little, which is where the master with all his years of experience wins over his more famous pupils. Muddy Waters don’t wash cleaner than clean, but do have that miracle ingredient!
THREE DEGREES: Dirty Ol’ Man (Philadelphia International ZS7 3534).
The Three Degrees are the girlie group who succeeded the Chantels with producer and sometime singer (“Some Other Guy”), Richie Barrett. Under his guidance they hit on several occasions, most notably with their rap-introed revival of the Chantels’ “Maybe” about three years ago, and with their early Sweet Soul “Gee Baby” in 1965: also, they were the night club group who appeared on screen in “The French Connection” (so THAT’S who they were!). Anyway, the girls have now returned to their Philadelphia roots, signing on with Gamble & Huff as producers / penners for their first single on Philadelphia International (they did actually have one single on G&H’s Neptune label a while ago). While perfectly good, the fairly typical Philly Sound clopping rhythm-propelled result is a bit of a disappointment, using as it does the girls’ sweetly pure and wailing voices less for their own sake than as a usefully shrill vocal instrument with which to pierce the blanketing musical instrumentation. However, it’s probably the right approach to give the girls a First Choice-type British hit when the record comes out here next month.
WILBERT HARRISON: Get It While You Can; Amen (Action ACT 4613).
The “Kansas City”, “Let’s Work Together” man – or rather, one man band – is back on the re-designed Action label with the news that he’s your Soul Food man . . . get it while you can! Sounding unique as always, he’s amalgamated African/Caribbean-ish Creole street calls with intricately picked guitar, vibrantly quavering harmonica, tricksy shuffling rhythm and bouncy booming bass to produce a fascinatingly funky musical texture which IS the record, the song itself being no more than the ingredients of a New Orleans menu itemized with all the genial good humour of a Creole Judge Dread. Gourmets, cognoscenti and dancers who use their hips more than their feet will be awarding this tasty gumbo at least four rosettes and three forks! Preaching-introed Gospel flip. PICK OF THE WEEK. Continue reading “October 27, 1973: Muddy Waters, Three Degrees, Wilbert Harrison, Steve Miller Band, The Osmonds”