10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Muddy Waters, Blue Skies,
This review is from: Blue Skies - The Best Of (Audio CD)
Muddy Waters was signed to Johnny Winter's Blue Skies label in 1976. He had been in semi-retirement for a couple of years following a car accident, but had made a striking return in 1975 with The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album, his last album for Chess, produced by Levon Helm from the Band. Received wisdom is that at the time of Johnny Winter acquiring Muddy Waters' services he was a spent and forgotten force; however one only has to see his 1976 performance and its reception in The Last Waltz, the filmed concert of the Band's farewell concert featuring stellar guests, at which he famously performed Mannish Boy, to see that this simply was not the case.†
Johnny Winter certainly did no harm to the revitalization of his career and helped to break him to a new, predominantly white rock audience. He produced and arranged Hard Again, the first album under the new contract, and also played some guitar on it, though he retained Bob Margolin from the Woodstock and Last Waltz line-ups, as well as legendary pianist Pinetop Perkins. Muddy turned in some new songs alongside ferocious re-workings of familiar material including Mannish Boy and I Want To Be Loved (as covered by the Stones), and provided some tasty slide guitar on I Can't Be Satisfied, the Big Bill Broonzy tune he had first recorded in 1948 and which had also inspired the Rolling Stones' version on their No. 2 album. Though not a replacement for the originals, they stand alongside them in terms of performance quality, and benefit from the advances of recording technology.
Blue Skies features 5 tracks from Hard Again and continues in chronological order with 4 equally incendiary tracks from the 1978 follow-up I'm Ready, well received live versions of Nine Below Zero and Baby Please Don't Go from Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live in 1979, and the remaining 5 from his final album, King Bee, released 2 years before his death in 1983 at the age of 68. As well as the Slim Harpo title track, it featured Arthur Crudup's Mean Ol' Frisco Blues and a new version of his own Too Young To Know. The selection serves a useful round up of the final five years of his recording career where he was fortunately on first class form throughout.