CD: 12 Songs, 56:31 Minutes
Styles: “Classic Contemporary” Electric Blues
What’s in a name? Some are as common as weeds in spring: Jones, Lee, Smith. Some are exotic: Cumberbatch, Kardashian, Kotb. In the blues world, one particular name is magic – Morganfield. It’s a mojo hand in and of itself, channeling the legacy and power of one of this genre’s gods.
Every one of McKinley’s descendants has been anointed with his surname, synonymous with never-ending excellence. As for one blues-blessed son? As he cheerfully comments on his latest excellent album, They Call Me Mud. No one else wants their name to be an insult resembling wet dirt, but in this case it’s a high compliment. On twelve tantalizing tracks (ten of his own and two of his founding father’s), Mud Morganfield does what he does best – seamlessly merging a traditional blues sound with twenty-first-century sensibilities. His style’s “classic contemporary,” an oxymoron if there ever was one, but it fits like a glove. With understated crooning and fluid, molten-metal instrumentation, Mud’s blues glows red-hot as Damascus steel being poured in a foundry. It’s hard to be a demigod of any art, but he’s well his way to full canonization.
“As soon as I introduced myself and he began to talk,” CD-liner-note-writer and co-performer Rick Kreher states, “I knew without a doubt that this was Muddy’s son. No one could have that deep baritone voice, and as soon as he gave that little ‘chuckle’ that Muddy always did, I was convinced. Since that first meeting, I am proud to say that we have become great friends and have worked together on many musical endeavors…Mud comes as close to the Muddy experience as one can get.” This Severn Records release proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Along with Mud, lead vocalist and bassist, are Rick Kreher and Billy Flynn on guitar and backing vocals; Studebaker John on harmonica and backing vocals; Sumito Ariyo Ariyoshi on piano and backing vocals; E.G. McDaniel on bass and backing vocals; Melvin “Pookie Stix” Carlisle on drums and backing vocals; Lashunda Williams on female vocals; Anne Harris on violin; Billy Branch on harmonica; Mike Wheeler on guitar; Bryant “T” Parker on percussion; Phil Perkins on trumpet, and Michael Jackson (no, not MJ) on saxophone.
It’s a magician’s trick – or a reviewer’s – to pluck the finest gems from this treasure trove.
Track 02: “48 Days” – Superbly melodic and featuring one of the best guitar intros, “48 Days” is a tale of a man who’s trying to get ‘clean’ after being addicted to his longtime lover. Sobriety’s not going well, however: “If you don’t want to see a grown man cry, please come home to me.” Phil Perkins and Michael Jackson are stellar on their respective horns.
Track 09: “Can’t Get No Grindin’” – “What’s WRONG with the MILL?” blurts Mud on naughty number nine. “Done broke down,” his numerous backup singers chime in. Addicting, catchy and irresistibly boogie-worthy, this one’s sure to get a top spot on BB King’s Bluesville playlists or yours truly will eat her hat – and she’s not even wearing one.
Track 12: “Mud’s Groove” – There’s nothing better than a soul-soothing instrumental to round out a rowdy time. “Mud’s Groove” will do the trick for sure, starring Billy Branch on harp and Bryant “T” Parker on percussion. Mellow and atmospheric, it radiates relaxation and good vibes.
“They Call Me Mud, ‘cause what I love, I love so deep.” Mud is raw, earthy, the stuff of life itself. Such is the blues, and such is this album.