Muddy Waters - The Complete Plantation Recordings

by Analogue Productions

The Complete Plantation Recordings — Muddy Waters The historic 1941-42 Library of Congress Field Recordings produced by Alan Lomax and John Work III Some tracks originally released in 1942 as Folk Music of the United States Album IV — Afro American Blues and Game Songs Mastered by Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound from a 192kHz file created from the original metal direct-to-disc recording 33 1/3 200-gram double LP pressed at Quality Record Pressings Stoughton Printing gatefold jacket wrapped in a linen cover "In 1941 and 1942, as part of the United States Library of Congress sponsored program to document and record America's 'folk' music, Alan Lomax travelled to Mississippi during 1941 and 1942 and made the earliest recordings of Muddy Waters on the Stovall Plantation near Clarksdale. The recording trip was the brainchild of Fisk University musicologist John Wesley Work III, who contacted folklorist Alan Lomax at the Library of Congress for funding. The two traveled to the Clarksville area in 1941 and recorded Waters, Son House, Honeyboy Edwards, and others. They loaded several hundred pounds of recording equipment, including a new Presto Model 'T' Recorder, that company's most portable disc-cutting lathe. The recordings were made on fragile aluminum and glass-based lacquers during two summer trips to Clarksdale. "One of the 1941 lacquers broke during the road trip, but three of the four sides of this release are from the 1942 sessions. Other than a few short interview cuts, and two vocals from guest singers, the four sides are composed of Muddy's singing and playing a Martin guitar supplied by Lomax, and with sidemen on some cuts. Two of the 1941 performances, 'Country Blues,' and 'I Be's Troubled' were included in a 1942 five-disc 78 RPM Library of Congress album titled Folk Music of The United States, Album IV: Afro-American Blues and Games Songs, and this was Muddy's introduction to the world outside the Delta. The blues explosion had begun — soon after the first Lomax visit, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Robert Lockwood Jr. had talked radio station KFFA in Helena, Arkansas into hosting a regular blues slot, named the King Biscuit Time after its sponsor. Muddy's appearance on the radio had folks talking and he knew he was going places. In 1943 Muddy boarded a train for Chicago and in 1947 got a call to record for the Chess brothers. "If Muddy Waters wasn't fully formed in 1941 and 1942 when he recorded his first songs, he was awfully close. He'd already established his unique blend of country blues and popular music. Just listen to "I Be's Troubled" and recognize that it's one of Muddy Water's evergreen hits, like 'I Can't Be Satisfied.' "But how good can a field recording made in the early 1940s sound? While it doesn't have the dynamic slam and quite the richness of his Chess recordings from a half-decade later, it sounds really, really good. Early blues recordings from this period are obviously limited in frequency range, but unlike most recordings of classical music from the period they need not be demeaned with the disparaging term 'historic.' Yazoo Records sold a boatload of records of one man/one guitar LPs of Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller, and Blind Willie McTell (as well as sighted blues singers) that still sound pretty decent. And those were from the 1920s and 1930's! By 1941, Presto Recordings equipment and especially its recording disc (an aluminum plate coated with a cellulose nitrate based lacquer) technology was the radio industry standard. "Until now, the complete plantation recordings were never available on LP. In 1966 Testament Records issued a one disc LP Down On Stovall's Plantation with 13 of the 19 songs from the session and none of the interviews. Chess released the complete sessions on CD in 1993. This new mastering by Analogue Productions make the earlier versions sound "historic" by comparison. Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound, working from the original Library of Congress 16-inch acetate disc masters, cut a 24/192 source tape from which the LP was cut. Everything about the new transfer is simply stunning. Detail and rich texture replace the much thinner sound of the 1966 LP, and leave the sound of the CD versions in the dust. "This gem is truly a limited edition pressing — only 1,000 copies will be pressed, 999 if you eliminate my copy. the fold-out cover is linen coated and the print and layout mimics the 1942 release. The inside cover includes outstanding notes; photos and the three inserts complete the handsome package. An essential blues library addition!" — Recording = 7/10; Music = 10/10 - Dennis D. Davis, Hi-Fi +, Issue 177 __________________________________________________________________________________ Blues legend Muddy Waters, born McKinley Morganfield in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, was a sharecropper/tractor driver, and a local blues guitarist when in 1941-42 when fate intervened. The Library of Congress had started its systematic series of field recordings of American traditional music and on a 1941 recording trip through the Delta, led by Alan Lomax and John Work III, they came upon the 26-year-old Muddy, recorded him at his home with a small accompanying combo (guitar, mandolin and violin), and made music history. "We were all very impressed by him; I mean, there was no question about the fact he was a blues singer who had great feeling and poise and mastery, and something very profound and special of his own to say," remembered Alan Lomax. Muddy had played harmonica since his early childhood, and learned guitar in his teenage years; his primary musical influence was Son House. A year later in 1942, Lomax made his second trip through the Delta recording the remainder of the tracks, including more of Muddy's songs. The following year, at age 28, Muddy moved to Chicago and a blues legend was born. Muddy Waters would go on to win six Grammy Awards and become an incalculable influence on not just the blues, but rock ‘n' roll. Analogue Productions is honored to present The Complete Plantation Recordings — Muddy Waters as a newly mastered 33 1/3 200-gram LP reissue. The songs presented represent everything listed by the Library of Congress as recorded by Muddy Waters during these historic sessions. What sets this reissue apart is its authenticity, says Acoustic Sounds/Analogue Productions CEO Chad Kassem. For this reissue the original metal disc recordings created by Lomax were the source for a high-res 192kHz digital file used by Sterling Sound's Ryan K. Smith to master this edition. "The file was made from the original parts; it's the highest quality of these recordings that's ever been released," Kassem says. In addition to the flat and impeccably silent 200-gram 2LPs pressed at QRP in this limited edition set, we've seen to it that the packaging is exemplary. The highest-quality Stoughton Printing gatefold jacket is wrapped in a linen cover, evoking the linen cover of the five-album set released by the Library of Congress initially in 1942 as Folk Music of the United States Album IV — Afro American Blues and Game Songs, where some of these tracks by Muddy first appeared. Lomax, Work and teams of other folklorists crisscrossed the country, particularly the southern U.S., setting up "portable" recording gear and recording native musicians and singers in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, at roadside markets, churches, homes and elsewhere. The recorders of the time were cumbersome. Weighing as much as 350 pounds, they were piles of iron, wire and steel — plus two batteries weighing 75 pounds each — and a microphone. Magnetic tape had yet to be utilized; the machines recorded onto scores of blank aluminum and celluloid discs. Both Lomax and Work's voices can be heard on the recordings conducting portions of interviews with Muddy. A great many more tracks were recorded than the two that were intially released through the five-album set released by the Library of Congress initially in 1942 as Folk Music of the United States Album IV — Afro American Blues and Game Songs. "I was the editor of the first five-album set, and my opinion of Muddy was so good that we included TWO of his songs," Lomax said later. "I couldn't make up my mind which of his two blues were best, so we put them both in."   Follow us on Instagram @Thevinylgram