Muddy Waters 100 Reviews

Muddy Waters 100




“Blues vet John Primer played in Muddy Waters' band, and he sounds like it — he has the late giant's slashing guitar tone and slurry vocal phrasing nailed. This handsome CD-book set of Muddy covers is his show. But the guests shine: Derek Trucks adds slither to a bad-ass triple-guitar take on "Still a Fool"; the late Johnny Winter (another veteran Muddy collaborator) does the same on "I'm Ready." Some tracks, […] like a drum-looped "Mannish Boy," spark by breaking tradition. All testify to the eternal flame of a master — the original rollin' stone.”





"… as festive a celebration as any fan could hope for."





“… a crisp and worthy glimpse of a giant”





“...very fine tribute album, in which vocalist-guitarist John Primer is joined by an incredible cast that includes Billy Branch, Gary Clark, Jr., Shemekia Copeland, James Cotton, Bob Margolin, Keb’ Mo’, Derek Trucks, and Johnny Winter… the CD was produced by two-time Grammy-nominated composer Larry Skoller and is in a gorgeous hardcover package that includes a 48-page booklet illustrated with iconic black and white photos of Waters and those paying tribute to him. Also included is an essay by Robert Gordon, author of an acclaimed Waters biography, Can’t Be Satisfied — The Life and Times of Muddy Waters. Most important, the music’s on the money, with 15 newly recorded tracks featuring Muddy Waters Band alumni and the stars mentioned above. It’s an obvious labor of love, true to Mississippi-born Waters’ down-home mix of Southern influences that ultimately defined the Chicago blues genre like no other… Tribute albums often yield mixed results, but not this one. It’s solid and true to form.“


Tom Henry, THE BLADE



Thanks to producer Larry Skoller for creating an amazingly soulful and delightfully successful production – a worthy tribute to arguably one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.


Michael Cala, Blues Music Magazine



“‘Muddy Waters 100’ features a ‘who’s who’ in contemporary and traditional blues, including John Primer, Billy Branch, Gary Clark, Jr., Shemekia Copeland, James Cotton, Bob Margolin Keb’ Mo’, Derek Trucks and Johnny Winter… Each time Raisin’ Music releases a CD, I think that this small boutique label sets new musical and visual standards… Each Raisin’ Music release offers thoughtful liner notes and outstanding photography… Musically, the CD shines… this CD pays tribute to a true giant of the blues by moving traditional Mississippi Delta and Chicago blues forward. ‘Muddy Waters 100’ is an exceptional CD.”





“ incredible tribute to Muddy Waters… Recorded in honor of what would have been Muddy Waters’ 100th birthday, the officially authorized album celebrates the life and music of the blues icon with 15 tracks spanning the longevity of his career. Tons of Muddy’s peers are on the album, from superstars like Johnny Winter to musicians that shared the stage with him like John Primer and Bob Margolin… Tribute albums can sometimes be overlooked, but this deluxe celebration of the music and life of Muddy Waters is a must-have for any fan of the blues.“





“3 1/2***...This is a very fine contemporary all-star tribute to Waters’ music from a band whose basic leader is Chicago blues stalwart John Primer who played with Waters until his death in 1983. Nor is he the only Waters alumnus here. You’ll also find James Cotton and Bob Margolin. You’ll even find Johnny Winter playing on the song ‘I’m Ready’ just a few weeks before his own death in 2014. How all-star is this tribute? Add Gary Clark Jr., Billy Branch, Shemekia Copland, Keb Mo’ and Derek Trucks… this tribute disc is terrific all the way through… The disc rises and falls on Primer’s ability to carry forth the torch of his old employer. And that he does in exemplary style.“





“…a grand gesture meant to be a gift to the late, great bluesman’s fans in his centennial year, members of Muddy’s band and a caravan of other players — including the late Johnny Winter, Gary Clark Jr. and Keb’ Mo’ — provide 15 new versions of classics.”





"...should inspire right thinking folks to not just further explore Muddy Waters music but that of the best of his many acolytes."


Rick Allen, Vintage Guitar Magazine



“A century after the birth of McKinley Morganfield on a plantation near Rolling Fork, Mississippi, in 1915, ‘Muddy Waters 100’ bears witness to the personal, professional and artistic triumphs of the man and the musical genre that he championed. The premise of the recording is that Waters embraced and mastered the traditional music that evolved within southern African American culture, transported it north to Chicago, transformed it to fit the modern world of his fellow émigrés and ultimately played a central role in reshaping popular culture worldwide. The 15 covers of Waters recordings on this CD represent an attempt to construct a similar traditional/transformative bridge…‘Muddy Waters 100’ features an exemplary program of tunes ranging throughout the bluesman’s career, from the acoustic, string band recordings made by Alan Lomax and John Work on the Stovall Plantation to his hits for the Chess label to his late career revival piloted by Winter. The tracks are split between two approaches: traditional performances in homage to Waters’ classic style and transformative performances that incorporate contemporary production techniques, including electronic drums and drum loop programming. Essentially, the difference between the two approaches is in the grooves, and both are cohesive and effective… The transformative tracks stay true to Waters’ legacy—this is not Electric Mud. The grooves constructed with drum loops, electronic drums and African percussion by Smith and Khari Parker energize the performances, and special kudos must be given to bassist Felton Crews for the rock solid foundation he lays down for both approaches. The opening duet with Primer and [Shemekia] Copeland on ‘Got My Mojo Working’, [Billy] Branch’s harmonica (with Blaise Barton on synth bass) on ‘Trouble No More’ and [Derek] Trucks’ slide work on ‘Still a Fool’ are standout tracks that carry Waters’ legacy into the 21st century. Yet, when all is said and done, the visceral power of the final track featuring a basic trio of Primer, Crews and Smith on ‘Feel Like Going Home’ is perhaps the ultimate centennial tribute to the man and his music.”


Robert H. Cataliotti, LIVING BLUES




“Producer Larry Skoller came well prepared, and with John Primer in the best shape possible, the performances all sound very inspired, sometimes giving a whole new twist to the originals. And we love the fact that the choice of the cuts is not all that predictable.”—Rien Wisse, BLUES MAGAZINE

“A beautiful document and not just for blues fans!”—Mark van Rikxvoort, JAZZCONTRASTEN

“Muddy Waters could not have wished for a nicer birthday present.”—MOORS MAGAZINE

“A perfect introduction for newcomers to Muddy’s legacy but with all these blues giants involved, also a real treat for die-hard blues fans.****”—Jeroen Jansen, VERONICA TV GIDS

“Muddy Waters 100 is often very powerfull and even stands upright when, as in “Mannish Boy,” producer Larry Skoller decides on a well-considered update of the originals.”—GAZET VAN ANTWERPEN

“The 15 songs on Muddy Waters 100, vividly produced by Larry Skoller, very much prove that Muddy’s music was not just influential but is also still very much alive today.”—ROOTSTIME.BE





...not only celebrates and commemorates but entertainingly contributes to the ongoing musical legacy of this American icon...By design, this compilation does not take an archival approach in its exploration of Muddy's songs – some tracks are performed traditionally, others receive contemporary treatments and newer, augmented arrangements that, one way or the other, reflect the current musical landscape. -- Gary von Tersch, BLUES&RHYTHM MAGAZINE

Primer’s “special friends” here include Shemekia Copeland, James Cotton, Derek Trucks, Gary Clark Jr and several others, but producer Larry Skoller has kept a firm hand on the proceedings,
and, unlike many tribute albums, it doesn’t come across like a variety bill. ...some [arrangements] quite faithful to the originals, some imaginatively rearranged. 8/10


Reviews, THE UK



Larry Skoller is a purveyor who masterfully and seamlessly transposes the tradition into the present and future with controlled boldness. He presents us the Centennial tribute to Muddy Waters and has put together a dream band. Christophe Mourot, Soul Bag Magazine


Reviews, FRANCE



“Producer Larry Skoller is back with another project that takes a fresh approach to the blues tradition… Now Skoller is focusing on the legacy of the iconic Muddy Waters in honor of the centennial anniversary of the bluesman’s birth. Like his other releases, this one comes with deluxe packaging—a hard cover booklet complete with numerous pictures of Waters at various stages of his life plus a lengthy essay from author Robert Gordon discussing Waters’ influence that extended well beyond the blues realm. Also included is a track-by-track listing of the musicians that appear on each song, a welcome feature that sorts through the rotating cast… In total, this is a first-class tribute to one of the giants of the blues… Instead of rehashing classic tracks, Producer Larry Skoller makes the bold move to reimagine part of the program to project what Muddy Waters might sound like today.”





"...Muddy Waters 100 is the real blues deal as it presents McKinley Morganfield’s music in context of his five-decade career in the blues. The contemporary production and arrangements breathe new life into Muddy's classic old tunes and show their timelessness. This CD will likely land on my Top 10 list of 2015 thanks to the expertise in front of and behind the microphones that features some of the finest Chicago blues talent in print and on record."





“Most tribute discs are a mixed bag at best. But ‘Muddy Waters 100’ (Raisin’ Music Records) manages to elude the compilation curse by hanging its blues fedora on the efforts of 70-year-old Mississippi bluesman John Primer, who played with Muddy until his death in 1983. Primer’s vocals and guitar licks anchor every track, making this 100th birthday celebration consistently authentic -- without sounding TOO reverent. Muddy wouldn’t want that… His voice is more weathered than Muddy’s was in its prime, but it’s well-suited to the enterprise, equal parts gravitas and earthy ribaldry… Purists may balk at the drum loops and hip-hop rhythms that turn up on some tracks -- a riveting ‘Mannish Boy’ being the prime example -- but it’s flourishes like that that keep ‘Muddy Waters 100’ from becoming a museum piece. Throw in snazzy, 48-page hardcover packaging and you’ve got a worthy tribute and a must for anyone who’s ever appreciated Waters’ sweeping influence. Meaning everybody.”





“Independent record label Raisin’ Music may have given blues fans the best gift they’ll receive all year with this tribute to Muddy Waters in the year of what would have been his 100th birthday.”


Bill Mitchell, BLUESBYTES



“4 Stars—Chicago blues icon Muddy Waters receives a rousing, spiritually and musically honest tribute from Gary Clark Jr., Shemekia Copeland, James Cotton, Keb’ Mo, Derek Trucks, the late Johnny Winter and longtime Waters guitarist John Primer, whose burly vocals are eerily reminiscent of his former boss. Representing various phases of Waters’ career, the 15 tracks are greased with old-school slide and harmonica as well as contemporary accoutrements like the drum loops boosting ‘Mannish Boy’ and ‘Trouble No More,’ and the fiddle that transforms ‘Rosalie’ into a country dance… (handsomely packaged with an essay by Waters biographer Robert Gordon).”





“Muddy’s music, traditional country blues welded onto the amplified industrial muscle of Chicago, still exudes a raw, defiant power. These versions feature the likes of Johnny Winter, James Cotton and Derek Trucks, with Muddy’s friend John Primer handling vocals. It’s good without ever threatening the authority of the original.”





“Producer Skoller deserves a tip of the hat for the deep, bottom-rich sound he’s fashioned for the Muddy 100 tribute. It’s a gut-shot from the word ‘go,’ as the opening workout on ‘Got My Mojo Workin’ comes rumbling out of the speakers, with a muscular, emotional vocal by Primer, with Copeland entering later as a wailing counterpoint to Primer; ‘Still a Fool,’ from 1951, features another ominous Primer scorching of the lyric with Derek Trucks’s slide screaming and howling banshee-like as it weaves under, around and sideways through the track. Indicative of the unexpected treats here is the thumping, stomping charge through ‘I Be’s Troubled,’ the first song Muddy played for Alan Lomax after the latter discovered him by accident while searching for Robert Johnson, who was already in his grave… the cats gathered here do themselves and Muddy’s legacy proud, especially Primer, the real star of the show for the way he digs deep into these songs and into himself for one powerhouse, emotionally rich vocal turn after another. He’s nothing short of awesome—reason enough to add Muddy Waters 100 to the collection.” (David McGee/Deep Roots magazine)





“Billed as ‘a centennial tribute to Muddy Waters,’ the 15-track ‘Muddy Waters 100’ features a handful of Waters alumni—and other special guests—performing his songs. Vocalist/guitarist John Primer, who was with Waters (1915-1983) for the last four years of the Mississippi bluesman’s life, does the lion’s share of singing and playing—and his voice is ideally suited to the material… James Cotton revisits two on which he appeared on the originals, one of them being 1959’s ‘I Feel So Good.’ Bob Margolin—who spent seven years with Waters—pops up on slide guitar on ‘I Be’s Troubled,’ a song that Alan Lomax recorded in 1941 for the Library of Congress on the Stovall plantation. Johnny Winter, who produced Waters’ 1978 Grammy-winning LP ‘I’m Ready’, lends his slide guitar to this version of the title track. Other guests include slide guitarists Derek Trucks on a great version of ‘Still a Fool,’ and Keb’ Mo’ on ‘Last Time I Fool Around With You… Gary Clark Jr. is on a great version of ‘Forty Days and Forty Nights.’ It all comes in a CD-sized 48-page book with an essay and great photos.”





“… a fresh approach… a fitting tribute that will satisfy any and all expectations. If you purchase only one cd this year this is the one to buy.”


Richard Ludmerer, MAKING A SCENE



“4**** You don’t have to be a blues aficionado to understand the immense impact Muddy Waters had on music history… Ex-Waters band guitarist John Primer pays tribute to what would have been Muddy’s 100th birthday by working with producer Larry Skoller to sing lead, invite a multi-generational set of musicians and deliver 15 covers of Muddy’s songs. Rather than choosing an entire album of recognizable ‘hits,’ the producers dug deeper in Waters’ expansive catalog to unearth obscure gems. Guests both younger (Gary Clark Jr., Derek Trucks, Keb’ Mo’) and older (harpists James Cotton, Billy Branch and Johnny Winter) join Primer to take these tracks home… Primer is a terrific singer; strong, strutting and just enough like his mentor Muddy to make these songs authentic but not a mirror image. The performances are spirited without a dud in all 15. And, perhaps most impressively, the sumptuous hardcover package with 48 heavy stock pages of rare photos and a beautifully penned essay from veteran music writer Robert Gordon is the definition of classy… this heartfelt project makes a terrific reminder of just how great these songs are, unearths interesting, seldom heard Muddy sides even fans might not know and works as both a tribute to the legendary blues man and an impetus to go back and experience the originals. In other words, mission accomplished.”





“Few tributes are done as elegantly as this one, from the CD-sized hardcover book containing stunning photography, an essay from Muddy Waters expert, Robert Gordon, to producer Larry Skoller’s notes, to the details about song origin and musicians on each track… with a roster that includes Billy Branch, Gary Clark, Jr., Shemekia Copeland, James Cotton, Derek Trucks, Keb’ Mo’, and Johnny Winter among others; this is indeed a worthy tribute to one of the most influential musicians of the last century. The brightest star among this lineup of luminaries though is John Primer… Tradition stays intact for the most part, although drum loops and synthesizers appear on a few tracks, attempting… to create a more contemporary sound. This heartfelt tribute touches on both widely and lesser known Muddy tunes, usually rendered impeccably… There have already been a couple of strong tributes to Muddy, but rest assured that this is the officially authorized one—the one that passionate blues fans need to get.”





“Innovative celebration of America’s influential bluesman”





“Muddy Waters brought Mississippi Delta blues to Chicago’s South Side in the 1940s, and if he wasn’t the only bluesman to ride the train to the Windy City, he made a greater impression than most. Marking the probable centennial of his birth, ‘Muddy Waters 100’ brings together surviving members of his band—including guitarists John Primer and Bob Margolin and harmonica master James Cotton—with such younger musicians as Keb’ Mo’ and Shemekia Copeland. The trans-generational concept establishes the idea that the blues is a torch that can be passed from old to young on credible new renditions of ‘Got My Mojo Working,’ ‘Mannish Boy’ and other Waters’ numbers. A host of admirers crowd the CD, including Johnny Winter, who recorded his part weeks before his death. A fine essay by Waters’ biographer Robert Gordon puts the music in context.”





“...As a featured vocalist and guitarist with Waters’ band for the last three years of the blues legend’s life, there are few living blues performers today more qualified to lead this project than Primer… in addition to having helped Primer fulfill his dream of one day recording a tribute to Muddy Waters, there’s a good chance Skoller—who also produced the Chicago Blues: A Living History project of which Primer, Branch, and the backing band here were all also a part—may have helped the blues guitarist to earn his next Grammy Award nomination as well.”





“Muddy Waters is rivaled only by B.B. King as the most innovative and influential blues artist in history. ‘Muddy Waters at 100,’ released last week, celebrates his legacy a century after his birth with 15 songs he wrote or popularized during his four-decade career. Singer and guitarist John Primer, who played with Waters until his death in 1983, is the focal point on this 15-track set. But Primer has plenty of help from luminaries such as singer Shemekia Copeland, harmonica player Billy Branch and guitarists Gary Clark Jr., Derek Trucks, Keb’ Mo’ and the late John Winter (in one of his final recorded performances). Former Waters band members guitarist Bob Margolin and harmonica player James Cotton also add credibility to this tribute. The collection is packaged in a CD-sized hardcover book with 48 pages of photos and history, but it’s hardly a museum piece. While some of the songs don’t veer far from Waters’ original vision, several feature dance beats, drum loops and other contemporary touches, and they tend to drive harder for the rock era.”





“This musical montage to Muddy… are all reverentially covered by the appreciative and talented ‘fan club’, who completely get it that this is where rock `n’ roll came from and why we can’t do without it.”





“…a contemporary tribute to the genius of the man by some of the most eminent blues musicians of our age including John Primer, Johnny Winter, James Cotton and Gary Clark Jr. ‘Muddy Waters 100’, produced by double Grammy-nominated producer Larry Skoller, comes in a collectible CD-sized hard-cover book with 48 pages illustrated with atmospheric black-and-white photographs and an original essay by Robert Gordon, himself a Grammy-winning author of the definitive Muddy Waters biography… What this album does is present original Muddy Waters’ songs with a modern take, making blues music relevant and accessible to new listeners as well as offering an updated take on some of the numbers for those well already familiar with it. It is a fitting tribute, because Muddy Waters was a blues player who also pushed boundaries, broke any rules he could and saw blues music as neither definitive nor with any set boundaries… The spirit of Muddy is definitely in this music but it makes no effort to ‘be’ Muddy. That could only happen once. Still, this collective production by musicians who are helping to redefine the blues genre takes his music and gives it to a whole new generation.”





“John Primer was in Muddy Waters’ last band. He was already then and is to this day the foremost practitioner of Muddy’s style of Chicago Blues. He brings to this role a unique ability to keep the music sounding fresh. It is fitting then that this tribute to Muddy on his Centenary is built around him. He gets an enormous amount of help from a Who’s Who in blues today… They can play anything and the new settings of Muddy’s most famous songs get most impressive performances here… Primer has done a marvelous job for his mentor and producer Larry Skoller has assembled a fitting tribute that combines traditional and contemporary in a most listenable way. The originals are imprinted in our subconscious and I think you’ll agree he’s overcome that.”


John Valenteyn, MAPLE BLUES



“Raisin’ Music Records has brought together some of the best performers in the business to commemorate the centennial of Muddy Waters… This collection includes everything from traditional treatments of his work to rock, pop, rap, hip-hop, digital samples, drum loops, and more as a way of demonstrating the extent of his influence. The result is a delightful collection that covers the entire spectrum…” (Bill Wilson/Reflections In Blue)





Muddy Waters 100 - No doubt one of the most important blues releases of the year: a must buy!


BTTR, Back to the Roots - Belgium



I’m on record stating my belief that the majority of tribute albums are generally a waste of nearly everyone’s time. Often, the tribute version of the tributee’s songs are too reverent by half, adding nothing to the original. Or, in other cases, the artists go too far, applying their own trademark “sound” for better or worse (usually the latter) to a song that really didn’t need any help, thanks...But I’m very pleased to report that Muddy Waters 100 is a highly worthy exception to the rule. In celebration of what would have been the 100th birthday of Muddy Waters (born McKinley Morganfield), Chicago producer Larry Skoller has brought together a superb band to interpret fifteen of Waters’ best-loved songs, and some well-chosen guests help out..The arrangements are familiar enough that purists shouldn’t be put off, but they happily avoid that slavish reverence to which I alluded earlier. Modern beats find their way into some of the performances, but unobtrusively so. One can’t help think that the man who once deigned to make Electric Mud would have smilingly approved.


Bill Kopp, MUSOscribe



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