Son of the Seventh Son
Having a famous parent can be a real burden for any child, especially if that child decides to follow the same career path. And when that parent has attained iconic status, expectations can bury the offspring before they can find their voice.
Larry “Mud” Morganfield embraces his father's legacy, which might be the only way you can go as the first-born son of the legendary Muddy Waters. Morganfield's vocal tone and phrasing are often similar to Muddy's. Repeated listens show that Mud is not intentionally copying his father – rather he embraces his lineage, totally comfortable in the knowledge that he has the talent to find his own niche. His laid-backed style meshes perfectly with a program that favors slow to mid-tempo songs, including seven originals penned by Morganfield.Producer Bob Corritore once again shows his deep understanding of the traditional electric blues genre. He surrounds Morganfield with an all-star line-up that includes Rick Kreher and Billy Flynn on guitar, Barrelhouse Chuck on piano, E.G. McDaniel on bass and Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith. McDaniel Corritore and Harmonica Hinds split the harmonica duties. McDaniel and Smith certainly understand the pressure that Morganfield faces. McDaniel's father, Floyd, was a singer/guitarist who was long-time fixture on the Chicago blues and jazz scenes, recording for Delmark Records late in his career. Kenny's father - the late, great Willie “Big Eyes” Smith – served a long stint as Muddy Waters drummer.
Morganfield captures the essence of his father's sound on the title track, penned by Studebaker John Grimaldi, a song filled familiar imagery pulled from Water's best-known material. “Love to Flirt” describes a woman with troubling ways, sending Morganfield to his minister for help only to find out that she has already hit on the pastor. You'd expect a song about fishing to be more upbeat but “Catfishin' “ has a more somber feel to it. Morganfield turns in one of his strongest vocals and Barrelhouse Chuck enlivens the proceedings with his Farfisa organ. Another highlight is the minor key slow blues “Midnight Lover”, with Morganfield eloquently relating his back-door man activities.
A cover of “You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had” has the band perfectly capturing Muddy's distinctive sound, with Flynn adding some taut slide guitar licks. “Health” is a Morganfield original that preaches that the riches of this world mean little if you aren't healthy enough to enjoy them. Barrelhouse Chuck once again provides a boost on the Farfisa organ and Corritore blows some mean harp. The rollicking opening track, “Short Dress Woman”, has another strong vocal from the leader while Barrelhouse Chuck shines on the piano and Corritore once distinguishes himself on harmonica. Another Mud original, “Blues in My Shoes”, has Smith laying down a tight, propulsive rhythm while Hinds makes expert use of his harp to fill out the arrangement while Morganfield describes the trials of growing up on Chicago's west side.
Just when it seemed like blues music was careening off in all directions, we have been blessed with several releases that prove that there is still life in the traditional blues format. In a recent conversation that I had with Billy Flynn, he praised Mud Morganfield as being a genuine, down-to-earth man who is excited to have the opportunity to share his talent with the world while honoring his legendary father. He has certainly done that – and then some on this recommended release that will undoubtedly get plenty of consideration for this year's blues music awards.
Reviewed by Mark Thompson