Consumer Guide Album
Muddy Waters: Hard Again [Blue Sky, 1977]
Since the heyday of Chicago blues was midcentury, most of the classic blues LPs are collections of cuts; except maybe for B.B. King's Live at the Regal and Otis Spann's Walking the Blues (oh, there must be others, but let me go on) I can't recall a better blues album than this. The songs run the length of live performances--four of the nine over five minutes--without any loss of intensity, because their intensity depends not on the compression of the three-minute format but on the natural enthusiasm of an inspired collaboration. Waters sings as though his life depended on it, Johnny Winter proves with every note how right he was to want to do this, and James Cotton--well, James Cotton doesn't open his mouth except to make room for the harmonica, which sounds just great.