Son of a legend plays the blues
Reviewed August 2009
By Big Bill Morganfield
Black Shuck Records: 2009
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Big Bill Morganfield didn't start playing the blues until he was into his 40s. A teacher by training, the son of Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield) began teaching himself guitar and cultivating his vocal style, and released his debut album "Rising Son," in 1999 to critical acclaim. He has release three more discs since, including his latest, "Born Lover."
Morganfield physical resembles his late dad, and his voice has just a hint of the deep Southern growl of the Mud Man. For the most part, the resemblance ends there, though, as Morganfield tries to establish a blues identity of his own on this disc by playing and singing a batch of blues covers and three originals. He is careful to avoid this being a Muddy redux package, also, by including only one tune by his father (and only one by his father's prolific partner, Willie Dixon). But the disc is produced by Bob Margolin, who also produced "Rising Son" and was Waters' guitarist.
"High Gas Prices" is an original by Morganfield that features a strident beat, good lyrics about price gouging, and plenty of guitar; Morganfield is playing some of this, but there are three credited axemen on the disc (including Margolin) and no guide to show who plays what. A Buddy Guy ballad, "My Love is Real," shows some good vocal range by Morganfield, and the title tune (the only Muddy Waters track) again gives him a chance to show some impressive singing chops. Howlin' Wolf's "My Last Affair" is a slow blues framework for Morganfield, whose reading is rather by-the-numbers. "Who's the Fool?" is another original, this one a Chicago-blues style rocker that features good harp and piano licks. Dixon's "One Kiss" is the closer, a familiar, driving vehicle that Morganfield rides comfortably; he is best on the faster numbers, though he has a good set of pipes throughout.
Morganfield doesn't pretend to be the songwriting giant his father was, but succeeds in establishing a sound of his own. Blues fans will find "Born Lover" to be an interesting new voice on the scene.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.