The best thing I can say about this Muddy Waters Chess box in this review is that it’s one of the best (and only) recordings I actually went out of my way to purchase in a store in this decade. If you don’t have this in your blues collection – then you don’t have blues!
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For the completist, this three-CD, 72-song box remains the definitive collection of one of the leading lights of Chicago blues. The collection spans 25 years, beginning with rare early recordings with pianist Sunnyland Slim and moving through Waters’s peak ’50s period, which offered the legendary support of Jimmy Rogers, Little Walter, and Otis Spann. Luminaries including Pat Hare, James Cotton, Earl Hooker, Buddy Guy, and Pinetop Perkins all make valuable contributions to his ’60s work. Along with his original hits and his noteworthy Willie Dixon interpretations, Chess wisely includes his lesser-known covers of Big Bill Broonzy, Howlin’ Wolf, Guitar Slim, Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, and Sonny Boy Williamson. –Marc Greilsamer
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