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VINE VOICEon 27 December 2005
In marked contrast to the hard, aggressive sound of his work with Johnny Winter the following year, this album shows another, far more relaxed side to Muddy Waters, as he revisits old songs and launches new ones in the laid-back company of his regular sidemen and some celebrity names. Producer and songwriter Henry Glover had gone into partnership with Levon Helm from the Band and converted a barn into a recording studio called Bearsville in Turtle Creek, Woodstock NY, and the Muddy Waters sessions, recorded 6-7 February 1975, were the first fruits.
Although there is a light front-porch touch throughout the album, probably influenced by Levon Helm's subtle drumwork and Garth Hudson's distinctive organ and accordion accompaniment, there is nothing lacklustre about it, with fine contributions thoughout from local resident Paul Butterfield on harmonica and from Waters' regular piano player and vocalist Pinetop Perkins. The album kicks off with Why Are People Like That, written by Bobby Charles, another Woodstock resident. Muddy Waters switches to slide guitar for two of his own new songs, and performs Kansas City in honour of Henry Glover, who produced it for Little Willie Littlefield back in 1952 (as KC Lovin'). Louis Jordan and his Tympani Five are also remembered through versions of Caldonia and Let The Good Times Roll.
The album concludes with a previously unreleased bonus track, Fox Squirrel, a Muddy Waters composition.
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After 27 years recording for Chess Records, this April 1975 album was Muddy's last for the label - and I think it's a bit of a forgotten gem.

PAUL BUTTERFIELD provides fabulous bluesy Harmonica throughout, PINETOP PERKINS plays piano (guest vocals also on "Kansas City" & "Caldonia") with both GARTH HUDSON and LEVON HELM of THE BAND throwing in Keyboards/Accordion and Drums/Bass respectively. While it's a straight-up blues album for the most part, Hudson's Accordion playing gives some of the tracks a slightly swing/Cajun feel - and is a genuine surprise and treat for it too. Special mention should also go to Butterfield's harmonica playing, which is fantastic throughout - clearly enthused by the mere proximity of the great blues man! In fact you can 'feel' the love of each musician towards Muddy in each and every recording.

Five of its eight tracks are Muddy Waters originals topped up with three cover versions. The three covers are Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller's peach "Kansas City", made famous by Wilbert Harrison and done by hundreds of others since, while the other two are the Louis Jordan R'n'B classics, "Let The Good Times Roll" and "Caldonia". Other contributions come from HOWARD JOHNSON on Saxophone, FRED CARTER on Bass and Guitar with BOB MARGOLIN on Guitar also - HENRY GLOVER produced the record.

This 1995 ERICK LABSON remaster has typically ace sound from one of Universal's primo engineers, while "Fox Squirrel" is a CD-only bonus track that is just that - a genuine discovery and bonus - astonishing that this McKinley Morganfield original was left off the record - nor ever used as a b-side?

"The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album" divides fans, but I feel it's a forgotten gem that deserves a rethink. And like all of his 70's recordings - I love it to bits. Test out "Going Down To Main Street" on iTunes and you'll get the idea. Enjoy!
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on 21 October 2011
All lovers of blues music should have this album in their collection. Brilliant music from a bunch of brilliant musicians. The album won a grammy for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording in 1975, and deservedly so. I think all the tracks from the album are up on youtube, so you can listen to them in full on there.

PS It indicates that this album already has five reviews, and yet there are no reviews on the page?
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on 7 October 2011
having been a paul butterfield fan for many years i was surprised to find a record with him on that i'd never heard of. i'm pleased i eventually did, though, as this is a classic. muddy's great and everybody else plays accordingly. i love the bass player - everything you want in the blues and nothing extra - and i like the accordion. but the harp's the highlight. for any budding harmonicist this is as essential as "canned heat" or the first duster bennet album "smiling like i'm happy". get it !!
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Woodstock residents Levon Helm and Paul Butterfield back-up Muddy Waters on this mid-70s record recorded in the Bearsville studios in Woodstock NY. The record sounds good, with Muddy in great vocal form and playing some nice slide guitar. I've always considered Muddy's Chess recordings the peak of Chicago blues, with good songs, well-recorded by an ever- changing but consistently superb group of accompanyists. Some of those same excellent musicians turn up here - pianist Pinetop Perkins and guitarist Bob Margolin - to provide sympathetic backing. Others like harp player Paul Butterfield and drummer Levon Helm fit seamlessly into the mix (Helm had backed Sonny Boy Williamson as a young man in Arkansas.) This is some of Butterfield's finest harmonica playing on record, he has fabulous tone and power, filling the shoes of his heroes Little and Big Walter perfectly. However, Garth Hudson was more problematic to fit in, a keyboard genius in the context of the Band, his accordian playing is fine on some of the faster numbers like "Going to Main Street" but I'm not really convinced it fits in on the slow blues. Also, I'm not keen on the included studio chat, which is nice to hear once to give context but becomes annoying on repeated listens.

Overall an interesting record, different to Muddy's classic Chicago recordings but not as successful as the Johnny Winter recordings which he was soon to embark on. Not an essential record but recommended for all Muddy devotees and especially for fans of Paul Butterfield.
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on 22 October 2014
This is a really cool album. I love it. A great mix of top-class musicians.
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on 17 August 2015
Many Thanks
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on 28 March 2015
Good Cd
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