Sometimes you need an album that kicks down the fucking door. This is one such album.
A little history: Electric Mud was produced by Marshall Chess and released in 1968 in part to rein in a new audience weaned on the burgeoning wave of psychedelic rock whose progenitors both aped and worshiped at the temple of Muddy Waters and his blues brethren. The results, depending on your age, vantage point and general attitude was one of either derision (blues purists) or that of enthusiasm (young rock fans). Put together in hopes of reviving Waters’ slumping career, Chess, eschewing Waters’ usual band, rounded up a group of new musicians (who originally dubbed themselves “The Electric Niggers“). Once in the studio the participants set the gear to high in search of wah-wah and fuzz. I’d say they found it. Clocking in at eight songs in 36 minutes, the record is a blues-driven psychedelic rock & roll slingshot that gives no quarter.
Chess described the results of Electric Mud sessions as being “a concept album like David Bowie being Ziggy Stardust.” Now whether Chess as producer, Muddy, or the crew, went into the sessions with any such idea in mind is anyone’s guess; regardless, what they brewed up in those sessions has been recycled and mimicked countless times since over the past four decades. Comprised of originals, covers and re-workings, Electric Mud feels of a piece in a way that only happy accidents and blind luck experiments can.
Electric Mud’s a dirty record, there’s nothing slick here. It’s the kind of record you put on at night—it’s the kind you put on when there are doors to be kicked in.
Stay Tuned: Related to Electric Mud—as they form a sort of weird, unholy, trilogy—I will be profiling both Howlin’ Wolf’s “dogshit” album and Bo Diddley’s psych record The Black Gladiator in the near future.
MP3: Muddy Waters :: She’s Alright