Hard Again

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Hard Again
Studio album by Muddy Waters
Released January 10, 1977 (1977-01-10)[1]
Recorded October 1976[2]
Genre Electric blues
Length 49:39
Label Blue Sky
Producer Johnny Winter[2]
Muddy Waters chronology
Live at Jazz Jamboree '76
(1976)
Hard Again
(1977)
I'm Ready
(1978)

Hard Again is the twelfth studio album by Muddy Waters. It was recorded by producer Johnny Winter.

Released on January 10, 1977, Hard Again was Muddy's first album on the Blue Sky label after leaving Chess Records.[1]

Background[edit]

In August 1975, Chess Records was sold to All Platinum Records and became a reissue label only. It was sometime after this when Muddy Waters left the label and he did not record any new studio material until he signed with Johnny Winter's Blue Sky label in October 1976.

Recording[edit]

The sessions for Hard Again were recorded across the space of three days. Producing the session was Johnny Winter and engineering the sessions was Dave Still – who previously engineered Johnny's brother Edgar, Foghat, and Alan Merrill. For the recordings Muddy used his then current touring band of guitarist Bob Margolin, pianist Pinetop Perkins, and drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Other backing members during the sessions were harmonicist James Cotton, who performed with Muddy at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1960, and bassist Charles Calmese, who performed with both Johnny Winter and James Cotton in the past.[2]

Songs[edit]

Three of the songs on the album – "Mannish Boy", "I Want to Be Loved", and "I Can't Be Satisfied" – were re-recordings of songs that were previously recorded for Chess Records. One of the songs recorded, "The Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock and Roll, Pt. 2", was co-written by Brownie McGhee and another song, "Bus Driver", was co-written by T. Abrahamson.

An outtake from the recording sessions, "Walking Through the Park", appeared on the 2004 Legacy Recordings reissue CD, while several more unused tracks appeared on King Bee in 1981.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[3]
Blender 4/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau A[5]
Down Beat 4/5 stars[6]
Q 4/5 stars[6]
Rolling Stone (1977) favorable[7]
Rolling Stone (2004) 4/5 stars[8]
Yahoo! Music favorable[9]

The album was well received by music critics. John Quaintance of Yahoo! Music called it "a remarkable album" and a "return to form" for Muddy Waters, commenting that "Johnny Winter, ... James Cotton, Pinetop Perkins, Bob Margolin, Charles Calmese and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith are all thrilled to be in the same room with Muddy, and it shows, as they lay down a serious foundation for the old master who struts and brags like it's 1950 again."[9] Q called it "a guaranteed delight" for "students of the post-war blues", while Down Beat stated, "Singing, [Muddy is] playful and proud, brawny and insistent, his free-flow of inspiration spreading to his superlative road band".[6] Dan Oppenheimer of Rolling Stone magazine said that "Mannish Boy" sounded like it was recorded live,[7] while both Oppenheimer and Daniel Gioffre of Allmusic state how powerful Willie "Big Eyes" Smith's drumming is.[3][7] Oppenheimer and Gioffre both share the opinion that Hard Again is Muddy Waters comeback album.[3][7] In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), Rolling Stone journalist Dave Marsh gave the album four out of five stars and commented that "Johnny Winter provided the sensitive production touch otherwise lacking on some of [Muddy's] early '70s recordings."[8]

In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau gave the album an A rating upon its release.[5] He praised its "intensity", which he attributed to "the natural enthusiasm of an inspired collaboration", and remarked on its standing in Chicago blues, "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."[5] In a later review for Blender, Christgau found Muddy Waters to be in "virile voice" and commented that "all-star musicians and fresh prospects stimulate the excitement promised in the title."[4]

Charts and awards[edit]

Hard Again peaked at #143 on the Billboard 200, which was his first appearance on the chart since Fathers and Sons in 1969.[10] The album won the Grammy Award for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording the year of its release.[11]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by McKinley Morganfield, except where indicated.

Original album[edit]

  1. "Mannish Boy" (Morganfield, Ellas McDaniel, Mel London) – 5:23
  2. "Bus Driver" (Morganfield, Terry Abrahamson) – 7:44
  3. "I Want to Be Loved" (Willie Dixon) – 2:20
  4. "Jealous Hearted Man" – 4:23
  5. "I Can't Be Satisfied" – 3:28
  6. "The Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock And Roll, Pt. 2" (Morganfield, Brownie McGhee) – 3:35
  7. "Deep Down in Florida" – 5:25
  8. "Crosseyed Cat" – 5:59
  9. "Little Girl" – 7:06

2004 bonus track[edit]

  1. "Walking Through the Park" – 3:55

Personnel[edit]

The following people contributed to Hard Again:[2]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United States January 10, 1977 Blue Sky Records LP PZ 34449
United Kingdom 1977 Blue Sky Records LP SKY 32357
Europe 1977 Blue Sky Records LP SKY 81853
Australia 1977 CBS Records LP SBP 234953
United States 1987 Blue Sky Records CD ZK 34449
Cassette PZT 34449
United States 2004 Epic/Legacy Recordings CD EK 86817
Europe 2004 Epic/Legacy Recordings CD EPC 515161 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Williams, Jean (January 22, 1977). "Soul Sauce". Billboard: 62G. Retrieved February 6, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Hard Again (Expand Reissue) (CD liner). Muddy Waters. United States: Epic Records/Legacy Recordings. 1977, 2004. 86817.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ a b c Gioffre, Daniel. Review: Hard Again by Muddy Waters at AllMusic. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (June–July 2004). "Muddy Waters: "Hard Again"; "I'm Ready"; "King Bee"". Blender (Alpha Media Group). Retrieved August 7, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert (March 21, 1977). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  6. ^ a b c "Muddy Waters - Hard Again CD Album". CD Universe. Muze. Retrieved August 7, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d Oppenheimer, Dan (March 24, 1977). "Album Review: Hard Again by Muddy Waters". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 6, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Marsh, Dave, et al. (November 2, 2004). Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 860–4. ISBN 0743201698. 
  9. ^ a b Quaintance, John. "Muddy Waters Reviews". Yahoo! Music. Yahoo!. Archived from the original on August 7, 2012. Retrieved August 7, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Charts & Awards: Muddy Waters – Billboard Albums". Allmusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 6, 2011. 
  11. ^ Grammy Award Winners Search Engine. Type in "Muddy Waters" under Artist to see results.

External links[edit]