East Side Slim
Mud Morganfield – Fall Waters Fall
self-release, recorded winter 2008
Mud Morganfield is the stage name of Mr. Larry Williams, who just happens to be the son of Muddy Waters (Mr. McKinley Morganfield.) Larry Williams (referred to as Mud in the remainder of this review) possesses a singing voice that is very reminiscent of his father's, especially when singing in a lower register. Mud can definitely channel the elder Morganfield's enunciating, of the way Muddy would "hit" (or stress) certain syllables for emphasis or emotional impact.
The CD is firmly rooted in the ensemble Chicago electric blues family tree. If you enjoy that style of music then you should strongly consider seeking out this CD. The musicians playing behind (or with, really) Mud are all Chicago stalwarts, and include Tom Holland and Rick Kreher on guitars and Harmonica Hinds on Mississippi saxophone. The recording quality of the CD is a little rough here and there (hints of feedback) but the energy levels of the live-on-the-floor sound more than makes up for it.
I do have one bone to pick concerning this CD. The credits list Larry Williams as the writer of all the tracks except for "Same Old Thing". While Larry might have tweaked and rewritten some lyrics, the melodies are for the most part all derived from McKinley Morganfield, Willie Dixon and Howlin Wolf numbers. The tunes will sound very familiar to most blues fans, although the actual sounds of the tunes remind me a bit more of Muddy Waters' Blues Sky label days (mid- to late-'70s).
1. What's That You Got – (that’s a cross-eyed cat there, man)
--This is a nice lead-off track to the CD, and it is up-tempo and raucous, putting you in the mood
2. Mean Old Woman
--This tune is a little slower, being a nice mid-tempo number with a little rhumba rhythm pushing it along. Harmonica Hinds supplies some fun old-school harp, but he won't make you forget any of Muddy's great harp players (Walter (Little and Big), Wells, Cotton, Smith, etc) The CD notes I had to work with don't list which guitar player plays leads, but in the time-honored tradition of Chicago electric blues combos, we'll say there are 2 lead players, each trading off lead and rhythm parts throughout the CD.
3. Fall Waters Fall – (I can hear that wind, blow wind blow…; I wonder if Larry's Mom was 19 Years Old when Muddy met her...)
--Here we have a deep, slow blues, the kind of thing Muddy Waters loved more than anything. From all I've ever discovered, he seemed to really dig that Deep S#@t. The band takes it nice and slow here, working a slow groove while Mud Morganfield works his vocals line hard, filling them with great emotion.
4. Easy Lover
--This is a mid-tempo blues on the funky side, with plenty of space for the guitar players and harp player to show off a bit. Mud describes how amenable he is to his woman's thoughts on romantic interaction between the two of them.
5. Sugar Baby – (Sugar sure is Sweet, so try a little splenda)
--This song is another mid-tempo rhumba rhythm blues with some stop time action thrown in for good measure. I'm not sure how Mud Morganfield can legitimately claim writing credit for this tune (it is basically Muddy's (or Mel London’s) Sugar Sweet), but it sounds good and if fun to listen to.
6. Satisfied – (I Can't Be Satisfied)
--Yes, this is a rewrite of (I Can't Be) Satisfied, one of Muddy's greatest performance tunes. Mud Morganfield does capture the spirit of his father's vocal idiosyncrasies on this cut, and the guitar players do a nice job of capturing that low-down sound.
7. I Love What I Love – (I Live the Life I Love, and Love the Life I Live)
--Ah, a good-old shuffle, and those of you who have read my reviews before know I love a shuffle. This is hard shuffle, with a great bass sound and some nice harp fills courtesy of Harmonica Hinds. Listen to the 2 guitars weave in and around each other. This is very good track, possibly the best on the CD.
--This tune is very cool, and has a sound very different from the other tunes on the album due to the clavinet/Rhodes keyboard sound used here. The tune is low-down and nasty, but funky, too. Mud sings a litany of problems he's experienced over the years due to his past smoking habit, some problems being minor and light-hearted, others as serious as can be.
9. You're Gonna Miss Me – (Baby, You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone…)
--This one is a little more contemporary sounding than some of the other tracks on the CD, mostly due to the fuzz-toned rhythm guitar heard here. Mud's daughter Lashunda is heard singing 2nd vocals on this funky bluesy cut.
10. Same Old Thing – (The Same Thing, what makes a man go crazy… )
--I'm not sure why Mud re-titled the song, but he did give Willie Dixon songwriting credit in the CD's liner notes. This is most definitely Dixon's Same Thing, and Mud does a fine job on the vocals, conjuring the spirit of his father. The tune is played to a slow-tempo, and feels quite ominous…as if those carnal desires are about to get the best of old Mud.
While the majority of the tunes on the CD are thinly veiled rewrites of tunes his father used to perform, Mud Morganfield (Larry Williams) and the band perform the songs very well, with all of them being strongly rooted in the spirit of Mud's father, McKinley Morganfield (Muddy Waters). If you enjoy ensemble Chicago electric blues, then this CD should definitely appeal to you. If you are a fan of Muddy Waters' music, this CD should appeal to you, also. Honestly, I was a little hesitant at first to review this CD, thinking that preconceived notions about Mud capitalizing on his father's name were the only reason this CD has seen the light of day. Well, I learned my lesson; take each project on its own merits and leave the baggage at home. This is a solid musical effort, with good singing, good musicianship, a nice selection of songs and everything was performed with great emotion and soul, as good blues should be. Let's rate this bad boy; STLBluesometer rating of 3.50 for Mud Morganfield's Fall Waters Fall.
- aka "East