My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: Hard Again is the twelfth studio album from Muddy Waters and his first in a long time not to be released on Chess records. It was produced by Johnny Winter and was recorded over three days in October of 1976. It was released in January of 1977.
What I think: Long before hearing this album, I remember being fascinated by the sampling of “Mannish Boy” on Nas’ Bridging the Gap. I just loved what I heard in that Nas song. I remember trying to track down what the sample was, but in the early days of Wikipedia I’m not sure if I ever figured it out. A coworker recommended this album to me about a year ago and I was instantly able to make that a connection again and I was also glad to be turned on to a wonderful album.
The album is really simply recorded and straight forward. The magic in it comes from the live feel and the swing of the musicians who all seem to be in love with what they are recording. There are yelps and howls and off the cuff speech which just give everything an amazing feel. Water’s vocals are of course great, but it is the playing of the musicians around him which really bring things to the next level. The harmonica of James Cotton is stellar, and the drums of Willie “Big Eyes” Smith are at another level all together. I could just listen to a mix of this album with those drums turned up loudest in the mix, they are just amazing! I just love his slow rolls and rim shots.
Song wise, there really isn’t a dud here, but some tracks do stand out. The previously mentioned “Mannish Boy” is stellar, with one of the greatest riffs to ever be put on record. The more laid back, acoustic “I can’t be Satisfied” has a wonderful picked guitar and “The Blues Had a Baby…” is an amazing rave up that borders on early Rock and Roll.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? This album is a gem and should be in my rotation more than it has been.
Rating (Out of 5) 5
Is this my first time hearing this album? No (87/386)
Percentage of Albums that are new to me: 78%