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

16 Responses to “Muddy Waters :: Electric Mud”

  1. Do you know if Muddy plays guitar on this album or just sings?

  2. Great album. To jake, he plays guitar.

  3. Great record. One of my favorite psych-blues albums, right up there with ‘The Howlin’ Wolf Album.’

  4. As a teenager, I first heard about this album via one of the PBS blues films. Later, while staying in Chicago for a week (bookended with Pitchfork and Lollapalooza), I stumbled across it at the Jazz Mart, and picked it up right away. Putting it on in that sweaty August apartment—100+ degrees, no AC—only intensified what is—no doubt—already a visceral listening experience. I was sold from the first notes of the reworked “I Just Want To Make Love To You.” That is my ELECTRIC MUD story.

  5. All I can say is…’re giving me one hell of an education.

  6. Can’t wait to read your thoughts on Black Gladiator. It’s such a good one.

  7. Dude this album is amazing. Brother Harpers Free Press News!!

  8. Many thanks for the referral. I’ve picked it up, am now spinning it and feel as if I’m suddendly trapped in a bad Tarintino movie…classic!

  9. This is a cracker..everyone who i have played it for have gone nuts over it.

  10. Hell no! This is tantamount to Pavement doing jazz standards ala Streisand.

  11. I liked this when it came out and nice it’s on Cd but I also liked the follow up which I seem to remember as the same musician’s, possibly the same recording day, it has a great atmospheric track with great bass called ‘Down at the bottom of the sea” or something similar. This isn’t on CD.

  12. An education indeed! Thanks for reviewing this.

  13. so good.
    related: chubby checker’s ‘slow twistin’

  14. great song but little embarassing for the black keys–she’s long gone. imitation is flattery?

  15. […] of Bo Diddley’s strangest full-lengths. It may also be his most fun. Like Muddy Waters‘ Electric Mud, and Howlin’ Wolf’s dogshit album, Diddley’s Gladiator was largely met with […]

  16. […] one of Bo Diddley’s strangest full-lengths. It may also be his most fun. Like Muddy Waters‘ Electric Mud, and Howlin’ Wolf’s dogshit album, Diddley’s Gladiator was largely met with confusion and […]

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