Immediately this album starts hypnotizing. The classic Chicago Blues style Muddy Waters made famous is evident on every track of this new live disc Hoochie Coochie Man.
Recorded in January of 1977 in Montreal, the record features some of Muddy’s greatest band mates, including Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson and “Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin on guitar, Jerry Portnoy on harmonica, Pinetop Perkins on piano, along with Calvin Jones on bass and Willie Smith on drums. They are great throughout, which is why it is no surprise that they, like many others, went on to have outside recognition after playing with Muddy’s band.
The best track is an 11 minute version of the classic, “Kansas City,” in which Muddy shares vocals with Perkins. This track ends with Muddy proclaiming just how many Kansas City women he plans on getting. His voice, even when he’s just talking and not even singing at all, is dominating. He would have probably made a great Darth Vader, with a little bit of the dark side of Mississippi in him. By the way, by the end, Muddy was going to get 12 Kansas City women. He probably could have, too. Hell, he probably did…every time he was in Kansas City.
Here’s the catch. If you have heard Muddy Waters before, and you own other Muddy Waters live albums, this is moderately unnecessary. If you are the kind of person who needs to have every bit of recorded material by an artist, then this makes sense for you, but if not, it’s really just like every other Muddy Waters live disc. Muddy rules, the band rules, the crowd is into it, etc. etc. etc. Don’t go expecting to hear much different than you’ve heard before.
Now, let’s not forget, the tracks include a whole lot of phenomenal slide playing by Waters, emphasized by his ability to always perfectly place the riffs in the progressions. In addition, his vocals are smooth at points, and grinding at others, again, with seemingly perfect placement. One has to wonder if Muddy’s classics could have ever been done as well by someone else. I honesty don’t think so.