Muddy Waters is one of the most respected bluesmen in history, and perhaps the most revered (and thus, imitated) artist in the genre. Waters, it can be argued, defined the Chicago blues style, while his raucous slide guitar technique was destined to influence a legion of white rock guitarists.
It was long thought that the well had run dry, however, and that every side of note that Waters had recorded had been issued and analyzed, captured on one of his many albums. Thus the pleasant surprise that is One More Mile, a two CD set and the first in the (sadly) out-of-print Chess Collectibles series that will also see the release of rare material from Howlin' Wolf, Etta James, and Little Walter, among others.
Muddy Waters' One More Mile
One More Mile presents material covering a time span from 1948 through 1966, offering a sort of musical chronology of Waters' career and development. Many of the 41 cuts here are alternate takes and acoustic or unreleased versions of Waters' signature songs, although there are several obscure B-sides included as well. Only three songs were ever released on an American album release before, and much of the second disc consists of 11 performances taken from a rare Swiss radio broadcast.
Alongside versions of such blues classics as "Hoochie Coochie Man," "Baby Please Don't Go" and "Crawlin' Kingsnake" are such wonderful finds as "You Gonna Need My Help" and "My Dog Can't Bark." One More Mile includes the stateside debut of the Waters' song "I Want to Be Loved" from 1955, which the Rolling Stones recorded as the B-side of their first single. Regardless of the many changes in band members, Waters' own Delta-influenced style and forceful musical personality always shines through the material.
The Reverend's Bottom Line
One of Waters' greatest strengths was his ability to recognize other artists' talents, and to successfully blend them with his own. As One More Mile shows, not only did Waters know a great song when he heard one - he recorded material written by a number of songwriters, including Sonny Boy Williamson, Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed alongside his own considerable creations, but he also had an ear for other players.
Through the years, Waters played with many great bluesmen, such as Dixon, James Cotton, Otis Spann, Little Walter and Ernest Crawford. The resulting collaborations created a legend, one well served by the work found on One More Mile. If you're a Muddy Waters fan, and can dig up a copy of One More Mile, it's well worth your time to do so. (Chess Records/MCA, released 1994)