Muddy Waters, is considered by many musicians and Blues fans as being the Godfather of Chicago Blues. Howlin’ Wolf might have disagreed with that assessment and singer/harmonica player Junior used the same moniker after Muddy’s death. None of that really matters though. Muddy Waters was an amazing figure in American Blues, with his deep, almost preacher like voice and his microtonal slide guitar the effect of his music is still effecting it’s listeners and is reaching new generations.
In the mid-sixties to early seventies the audience for the Blues had changed. The popularity of the Blues moved away from it’s original African-American urban base to white American college students, Folk musicians, and overseas musicians and audiences. Marshall Chess, son of Chess Records President Leonard Chess, was given the challenging task of re-marketing the music of Muddy and of the other older Bluesmen on the Chess label. After a few misplaced Psychedelic experiments like the “Electric Mud” album(1968), Marshall Chess and producer Norman Dayron joined forces and struck gold with the concept album “Muddy Waters, Fathers and Sons.” No horns or fuzz tone guitars on this one. The deep Blues of Muddy Waters stepped back into the spotlight with the “Fathers and Sons” Blues album.
The concept of ‘Fathers and Sons was to unite two generations and races in a gesture of total respect for Muddy Waters’ music. “Fathers and Sons” boasted a a line-up of stellar musicians: Michael Bloomfield on guitar, Paul Butterfield on harmonica, Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass, Sam Lay on drums, and former Muddy Waters bandmate, Otis Spann, on piano. Also assisting were Jeff Carp on chromatic harmonica, rhythm guitarist Paul Asbell, Phil UpChurch, on bass. “Fathers and Sons” was a double album with three of the sides recorded at studio sessions in Chicago on April 21, 22, and 23 1969. On April 24 a fourth side of the album was recorded at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. This side of the album was a tour de force and drummer Buddy Miles joined in on the encore reprise of “Got My Mojo Working.” This album is one of the best generational collaborations in annals of recorded Blues.
My favorite three songs on “Fathers and Sons.”
1. Mean Disposition
2. Blow Wind Blow
3. All Aboard
youtube video reviews
For my favorite tracks, number one and two are referenced in one video. The first track featured here is “Mean Disposition.” This track demonstrates that Paul Butterfield and Michael Bloomfield learned their lessons when a decade before they started sitting in with Muddy Waters in the Blues clubs around the South and West Side of Chicago. Muddy Waters’ slide guitar is outstanding on this track. It is a signature Muddy Waters tune that is played at a leisurely, yet intense, pace. “Blow Wind Blow,” is a great standard Chicago shuffle that fits Muddy perfectly.
My third favorite track is “All Aboard” is a wonderful track with Sam Lay’s snare drum driving the song with a train like beat and the twin harmonicas of Jeff Carp, on chromatic harmonica, and Paul Butterfield on diatonic continuing the locomotive feel with whistle like blasts on their harmonicas. All three of these tracks were featured on the original album.