Wednesday, December 22, 2010

348. At Newport. The Blues.

Album: At Newport
Artist: Muddy Waters
Year: 1960
Genre: The Blues


  1. I Got My Brand On You
  2. (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man
  3. Baby, Please Don't Go
  4. Soon Forgotten
  5. Tiger In Your Tank
  6. I Feel So Good
  7. Got My Mojo Working
  8. Got My Mojo Working, Pt. 2
  9. Goodbye Newport Blues

When Muddy Waters and his band took to the stage at the Newport Jazz Festival he was essentially trespassing on established territory. The festival was designed to highlight jazz performances and the audience was more accustomed to sitting and appreciating virtuoso Jazz than getting up and dancing to blues music. This is definitely not a rock crowd and if you're in any doubt you only need to listen to the introduction Muddy gets at the start of the album. A lone voice announces his name with all the excitement of a teacher calling out a class roll. It sounds like someone introducing panelists on a political discussion program more rather than an announcer revealing the name of a blues legend to an eager crowd. The smattering of applause makes it clear that the crowd aren't unhappy to see him but he's not the reason they came.

Throughout this album's all-too-brief running time Waters and his band (who I've always thought should be called The Puddles) win the crowd over. He starts off slow with I got my Brand on You but quickly moves into Hoochie Coochie Man and performs the version that inspires all the countless people who have covered the song ever since. Baby Please don't go is another definitive classic which he follows up with Soon Forgotten, Tiger in your Tank and I feel so good. During this last track you can clearly hear the audience getting involved. He's turned the jazz fans into dancing fiends who are loving every minute. He finishes his set with I've got my Mojo Working and totally sets the crowd alight. There's clapping and cheering and it concludes with some rapturous applause. The audience refuses to let him leave and he comes back for a further reprise of Mojo with the band and the audience joining in on the chorus. When Muddy isn't at the mike you can hear the crowd going wild and screaming at whatever is going on. Clearly there were antics involved. It would have been a great gig to attend.

The album concludes on a really interesting note which I only learned about recently. The 1960 Newport festival attracted record crowds and there were disturbances that caused someone to call the national guard. There was a rumour circulating that the festival had no future. A poet who was in the audience (because what's a jazz fest without a poet?) wrote a lament about the possible close of the festival. He gave it to Muddy's band and the pianist Otis Spann sang it while the band improvised around him. The final result is called Goodbye Newport and is such a great slow blues track you'd be amazed to learn the singer was sight-reading the lyrics off a sheet of paper. The words "Goodbye Newport" spoken at the end of the album aren't a band saying goodbye to a crowd but musicians saying farewell to an era. Thankfully it wasn't the case and Newport lived on.

Live at Newport is a great album by a great man fronting a great band. It's highly recommended listening for those who want to get their mojo working.

Influenced by: Robert Johnson.
Influenced: The Rolling Stones

Highlight: Got my Mojo working
Lowlight: Goodbye Newport.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I'm a lot older now, have gone though several copies of this record. I've had it on four track, eight track, cassette and CD and now on iTunes."

-I alway love people who own up to owning multiple formats of an album. Especially when one of those is from Amazon's main rival.

So is your mojo working or is it currently in an inoperable state? Let me know below.

1 comment:

  1. So many impoverished black blues guys to discover. So little time to do it. Cant seem to get any further back than Butterfield and Bloomfield. Will get there though.