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Big Bill Morganfield: Rising Son

Ravi Coltrane

It’s a helluva thing to be the son of an icon. Ask Ravi Coltrane or Julian Lennon or T.S. Monk. As son of Muddy Waters, Big Bill Morganfield runs the unavoidable risk of being compared to his legendary papa, particularly since he sings and plays the guitar. But on his debut, Rising Son (Blind Pig 5053; 42:24) Muddy’s offspring summons up the kind of menace and sting that would’ve made his daddy proud. Produced by one-time Muddy sideman Bob Margolin, this career-launching cd features such other seasoned sidemen (and former Muddy bandmates) as Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on drums, Paul Oscher on harmonica and the great Pinetop Perkins on piano. While Big Bill doesn’t quite have the formidable vocal presence of his famous father (and who else does?), there are touches of Muddy’s signature, slashing slide guitar technique on “Left Hand Blues” and the title track. Elsewhere, he conveys a tough vibe on his daddy’s “Screamin’ and Cryin'” and “Champagne & Reefer,” covers Willie Dixon’s “The Same Thing”and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Baby How Long” with requisite grit, and offers up some respectable originals in “Dead Ass Broke,” “Cryin’ Days” and “Don’t Want to See You Go.” A solid debut by a potent new force on the blues scene.

Originally Published