This year would be Muddy Waters’ 100th birthday and his son Mud Morganfield wanted to pay tribute to him, so he teamed up with Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds to create For Pops. Aside from Mud’s vocals, which sound very similar to his father’s while not sounding like an imitation at all, Wilson provides fantastic harmonica to help create a hot classic Chicago sound.
In addition, the CD features some other amazing and very experienced blues musicians: Billy Flynn and Rusty Zinn (guitars), Barrelhouse Chuck (piano), Steve Gomes (bass) and Robb Stupka (drums). The album was produced by David Earl and Steve Gomes at Severn Sound Studios in Annapolis, Maryland. The musicians were all recorded together in one room to get a live, party sort of atmosphere and Morganfield was recorded separately to get the best possible vocal sound. The whole project was recorded in four days and mixed by the end of the week, so the feeling is very authentic and similar to a midnight jam at some intimate club.
While some of the songs are very familiar, others are not as well known. This allows the musicians to explore the versatility of Chicago blues. Morganfield and Wilson nail the classic “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and “Blow Wind Blow” and do a delightful version of “My Dog Can’t Bark.” In fact, there’s really no point in going through each of these tracks one at a time. Every single track is superior.
There is no better combination in the blues than a hot harp player and an expressive vocalist and that is what we have here. Backed by a band that knows how to swing the blues, the experience is sublime. Muddy could not have a better tribute than this and no two musicians could have done it better. Close your eyes and you could be listening to Muddy and Little Walter, and it just does not get any better than that.
Don’t miss For Pops. It is an essential recording for any blues lover.