Friday, August 26, 2011

280. Folk Singer - Muddying the distinction between Folk and Blues

Album: Folk Singer
Artist: Muddy Waters
Year: 1964
Genre: Blues


1. My Home Is In The Delta
2. Long Distance
3. My Captain
4. Good Morning Little School Girl
5. You Gonna Need My Help
6. Cold Weather Blues
7. Big Leg Woman
8. Country Boy
9. Feel Like Going Home

We've seen Muddy Waters on this countdown before. 68 places and 4 years earlier he appears with his At Newport album in which he tears the place apart with some Mojo working and big band blues that is so down and groovy it could make an earthworm tap its toes. Give it a listen if you haven't already but make sure you're not expecting more of the same if you follow it up with this release.

Folk singer showcases a completely different side of Muddy Water's musical ability. It's not the electrified blues that set a stage alight but a low-key set of acoustic tunes that belongs in a smokey blues club somewhere. The original release of Folk Singer features Muddy playing acoustic guitar with unplugged bass and guitar for accompaniment and drums for rhythm. It's stripped back and sparse and I can't recommended it enough.

What makes Folk singer so outstanding is the sheer weight of talent in the studio. If blues mojo was snow you could toboggan down the slopes of Folk Singer. Drums are supplied by Clifton James who played on all the great Bo Diddley tracks that helped establish the rock and roll rhythm. Bass is played by Willie Dixon who wrote so many blues standards he can pretty much take credit for Led Zeppelin's first two albums. And providing guitar solos is Blues master Buddy Guy. Whenever any magazine assembles their list of "Greatest guitarists" you will always find Buddy Guy on there somewhere and every member of the top ten will cite him as a major influence.

With that amount of support Waters himself only needs to phone in a half-decent performance to make a great album. The truth is Muddy's vocals are amongst the best ever put down on a blues record. He's created the archetype for blues vocals. If his lyrics were as deep as his voice you could write PHD's about the song titles alone. His dulcet tones make your ears vibrate with happy.

The bonus tracks added to the CD release are great but not as essential as the original nine cuts. Folk Singer is proof that all you need to make great music is a few basic instruments, a recording studio and a huge amount of talent.

Influenced by: Robert Johnson
Influenced: Clapton, Page, Beck- those lads.

Highlight: Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (Interesting to hear the original lyrics)
Lowlight: The bonus tracks (which are still fantastic)

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Hell man. I remember one night I was knockin' the boots with this one chick and listening to this album. It was smack."

-If knockin the boots means what I think it means then I'm not sure what Smack means because I'm not sure that this release is such a great soundtrack for boot knockin. Unless you knock boots incredibly slowly.

So is this album smack? And is that a good or bad thing? Let me know below.

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