Muddy Waters – Classic Concerts collects 3 gigs by the master bluesman that features significantly different bands over a period of 17 years. The 3 concerts are :
1) His historic appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival, 1960. Band : Pat Hare (g), Otis Spann (p), James Cotton (harp), Andrew Stephenson (b), Francis Clay (dr).
2) Copenhagen Jazz Festival, 1968. Band : Luther “Snake” Johnson (g), Pee Wee Madison (g), Otis Spann (p), Paul Oscher (harp), Sonny Wimberley (b), S.P. Leary (dr).
3) Molde Jazz Festival, 1977. Band : Bob Margolin (g), Luther “Guitar” Johnson (g), Pinetop Perkins (p), Jerry Portnoy (harp), Calvin Jones (b), Willie Smith (dr).
Listening to these 3 concerts, one can easily see how Muddy Waters’ live act changed over the years – he incorporated more guitar players into the band, yet maintained giving plenty of room for his harp players to shine. The music on the Newport set features a younger Muddy Waters and the music comes across as much more aggressive and energetic. The latter sets lack the impact of the Newport concert but make up for this with perhaps a more accomplished band and more solo space for the instrumentalists. I found all three concerts offered top notch and very satisfying blues.
Of the 3 sets, I was most impressed with the acclaimed Newport set. For this DVD, the producers synced a remastered stereo audio track to the concert footage and the result is simply stunning. The sound quality is awesome and does justice to the performances. The DVD also features a generous booklet with a preface by Bill Wyman from the Rolling Stones and a guide to each concert by Muddy Waters guitarist Bob Margolin.
Verdict : An essential buy for blues fans!