Record of the Day: Muddy Waters, "The Plantation Recordings"

Record of the Day: Muddy Waters, “The Plantation Recordings”

Muddy Waters
The Complete Plantation Recordings (Cd Chess B000002OC1)

The celebration is that of work, today's music can only be the blues, music that was born from work and toil, documenting like no other the suffering and injustices that have always existed in the working world.
In the 1940s the situation for those with dark skin in America was certainly not the simplest, many people of African-American culture found themselves having to endure an existence as slaves working the land without having other opportunities in life.

The ethnomusicologists Alan Lomax and John Work had long ago embarked on a meticulous search for American popular music, carrying with them a bulky and very heavy recorder to document directly in the field the voices coming from that part of the population to which almost every right was denied, also preserving an authentic treasure of interviews full of stories, anecdotes, popular legends that came from the dawn of time.

Setting off in 1941 along the Mississippi Delta in search of bluesman Robert Johnson (who died before they could reach him), Lomax and Work collected an enormous amount of material, including the first recordings of a young bluesman, McKinley Morganfield, who would later achieve success worldwide under the name of Muddy Waters through the sounds of electric blues in the Chicago style.

Here we find ourselves instead in an acoustic dimension, recorded on the porch of Muddy's house before he moved to Chicago, where the great singer is mainly accompanied by his guitar with the very minimal invasive support of Henry Simms (guitar and violin), Percy Thomas (guitar), Charles Berry (guitar and vocals) and Louis Ford (mandolin).
In an informal atmosphere, interspersed with autobiographical interviews, Muddy reels off magnificent versions of songs such as “I Be's
Troubled” (which later became the famous “Can't Be Satisfied”), “Country Blues”, “32-20 Blues”, “I Be Bound to Write Yo”u, leaving us to foresee all the interpretative power that Waters would develop in the space of a few years, progressively becoming the most influential bluesman in history together with Robert Johnson.

Authentic, spontaneous blues, indispensable for fans of the genre but also for those who want to start getting closer to this music.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.