Mud Morganfield – Son of the Seventh Son

January 01, 1970

(Severn)

 

www.severnrecords.com

 

When it
comes to blood lines, Larry “Mud” Morganfield comes from one of the strongest
in blues history. His father was the late McKinley Morganfield, better known as
Muddy Waters. Younger brother Big Bill Morganfield has also taken on the family
trade. Mud came to the family business a little late in the game, since he only
began singing seriously 12 years ago at the age of 51. He delivers his lyrics
in a no-nonsense manner, sounding appropriately gruff on the up-tempo songs
with a little bit of smooth understatement, rather than going for a shouting
delivery.  If anyone can lay claim to the
brags in the title track, which pulls lines from several classic blues songs,
Morganfield’s the man.

 

Early
on in the album, however, Morganfield’s own lyrics fall pretty far from the
tree. He sticks to the traditional blues formula of repeating one line twice,
and trying to drive his point home with the new third line. The opening
non-rhyming verse of “Loves to Flirt” hopefully was intentional (“I can’t go
nowhere, my little girl she loves to flirt/ you know one day, one day, she’s
gonna get me killed”) but “Health” sounds more like the type of blues that
would be heard in an insurance commercial. Morganfield pleads to his listeners
that money doesn’t mean squat if you don’t take care of yourself, mentioning a
friend who had open heart surgery, without elaborating on what happened or what
it means. Like “Loves to Flirt” the final verse of “Health” doesn’t so much
wrap up the song’s story so much as it leaves you puzzling over the message:
“You can have a house full of maids, but it don’t mean a thing without good
health/ what good is a house and maids if you’re dying from the virus AIDS.”
Sure the rhyme pattern is clever, but what year is this?

 

Yet
even when the lyrics fall short, Morganfield has a solid band backing him up.
Knowing that the blues chord patterns can get predictable, he and the band
switch it up with nearly every song, going from barn-burning grit to down and
dirty, which sounds strong in both departments. Guitarists Rick Kreher and
Billy Flynn add chunky support with pianist/organist Barrelhouse Chuck. But the
real power comes from the harmonicas of Harmonica Hinds and producer Bob
Corritore, who alternate duties on the dozen tracks. There’s something about
the gritty sound of a harp that elevates a band, and these two deliver.

 

While
the musical inspiration gives these lesser tracks some added depth, the final quarter of the album shows some power
that the rest of the album only touched on a little. The
second to last track covers Muddy Waters’ “You Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never
Had,” sandwiching it between two of Mud’s originals. Maybe it was the paternal
inspiration being close by in that cover, but Morganfield’s mojo is finally
working because these tracks stand up as some of the best on the album.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Son of the Seventh
Son,” “Leave Me Alone.” MIKE
SHANLEY

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