In March 1977, having just released his first album for Blue Sky Records after years on the Chess imprint, Muddy Waters took to the road with a band of blues all stars including Pinetop Perkins, Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin, James Cotton, and rock guitar wiz Johnny Winter. For the first time, an entire album of live material from the tour, compiled from three different performances, has been released as Breakin’ It Up, Breakin’ It Down.
This 11-song, hour-long set includes a spectacular version of Waters’ groundbreaking smash “Can’t Be Satisfied,” a rarely performed song that he was known to say “put me on the map.” Other highlights from the disc include Winter's scorching guitar and vocal work on “Love Her With A Feeling,” Cotton singing the crowd a pleasing “Trouble No More” as Winter takes a rare turn on harmonica, and a Louis Jordan-style version of “Caledonia” with Pinetop Perkins joining the act to sing along.
The fact that this album is being released at all is somewhat of a gift from above. In 1999, Legacy Records discovered nearly 80 long-forgotten boxes of recordings that had been abandoned by Blue Sky years before. They had been placed just beside a giant dumpster at an out-of-town storage facility. The tapes were soot-covered, but contained the equivalent of musical gold, many bearing the name Muddy Waters. This discovery has led to multiple posthumous releases that would have otherwise never seen the light of day.
As talented as the members of his band were on this 1977 tour, there can be little doubt that Waters was the mastermind leading the musical follies. Thirty years later, thanks to tapes that were saved from a trash bin, Breakin’ It Up, Breakin’ It Down ensures that his legend continues to grow among an entire new generation of fans.
Breakin’ It Up, Breakin’ It Down is now out on Sony Records.