Muddy Waters - vocals, guitar; Francis Clay - drums; Mac Arnold - bass; Sammy Lawhorn - guitar; George Smith - harmonica; Luther "Georgia Boy" Johnson - guitar
This was the first of three days that the legendary Muddy Waters played San Francisco's Fillmore West in November of 1966. In addition to this show on the 4th, he played another night on the 5th and a rare matinee show on the 6th of November. All three shows included Quicksilver Messenger Service and Andrew Staples on the bill.
Although Waters (born McKinley Morganfield) would continue recording and performing until his death in 1983, many consider the touring band featured on this show among the finest backing bands he would ever front. Featuring George Smith on harmonica and Luther "Georgia Boy" Johnson on guitar (along with Waters himself), the band was obviously enjoying their newfound audience, which consisted mostly of San Francisco's emerging hippie community.
Opening with the instrumental "Chicken Shack" blues romp, this show is radically different than the other sets played during this run. Included here is "Long Distance Telephone Call," which was one of Waters' earliest sides for Chess Records, originally released in 1951. Also included is his classic "Hoochie Coochie Man," which hundreds of blues rock artists have covered, including Jimi Hendrix. The highlight of the show, unquestionably, is the classic "Trouble No More," which Waters sings with a true Delta Blues growl. The blues standard is immortalized on the first Allman Brothers Band album three years later, but their version is no match to Waters' original trademark sound. Another fun song is Waters' rendition of the R&B classic, "I'll Go Crazy," which was a hit for James Brown and The Moody Blues in the U.K., circa their 1965 Go Now period.
Like many of Waters' live recordings, this is a far from perfect performance. His guitar is usually out of tune on the higher strings, and he doesn't always get the words right. But who cares? This is a testament to the talent of a real Chicago blues pioneer, and it's fantastic, warts and all.
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