Personnel: Muddy Waters (vocals); Phil Upchurch, Roland Faulkner, Pete Cosey (guitar); Gene Barge (tenor sax); Charles Stepney (organ); Louis Satterfield (bass); Morris Jennings (drums).
Producers: Marshall Chess, Charles Stepney, George Barge.
Reissue producer: Andy McKaie.
Recorded at Ter Mar Studios, Chicago, Illinois, May 1968. Originally released on Cadet Concept (314). Includes liner notes by Mark Humphrey and Marshall Chess.
Digitally remastered by Erick Labson (MCA Music Media Studios, North Hollywood, California).
Often derided by cynics who see it as an ill-conceived attempt to update Muddy's sound, ELECTRIC MUD actually makes an odd kind of sense. In retrospect, its mating of Muddy's Chicago blues with a Cream-like, semi-psychedelic blues-rock sound merely places the blues godfather in amidst the world he helped inspire, if not create. Heavy blues-rock bands of the late '60s like Cream and Led Zeppelin would never have existed had Muddy not harnessed the power of electricity as a vehicle for his big-sounding blues in the '50s.
ELECTRIC MUD is dominated by a fuzz guitar so unabashedly over-the-top it's downright endearing. All the trappings of the period are thrown into the mix: funky/heavy grooves, fuzz bass, wah-wah pedal, etc. There's even a rush of backwards tapes at the beginning of a rocked-up take on "Mannish Boy." 30 years later, hardcore blues artists like R.L. Burnside would benefit from an analogous approach by working with samples and loops, so hindsight makes this album seem more canny than misguided (it did create a marked increase in Muddy's poor late-'60s record sales). Besides, it's worth the price of admission just to see the photos that show Muddy's trademark "conk" hairdo in various stages of preparation.