If I had to describe Breakin’ it Up, Breakin’ it Down in two words, I’d simply call it “buried treasure.” This full length live set, available here for the first time, was recorded during three shows back in 1977 following Muddy Waters’ signing to the Blue Sky label, then imprint that gave us the classic Hard Again and Muddy Mississippi Waters Live, both produced by Johnny Winter. Johnny was using his star status to great effect, exposing the music of his hero and mentor to a whole new generation of fans.
This concert captures Johnny and Muddy, along with harp master James Cotton captured live at their peak, with an amazing band that features a few other names you may have happened across in the past. Folks like “Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin on guitar, Pinetop Perkins on piano, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on the drums and Charles Calmese on bass.
It’s a blues-rock party from the starting gate to the finish line, opening with a medley of “Black Cat Bone” and “Dust My Broom,” and getting down and dirty with “Can’t Be Satisfied,” the 1948 hit that Muddy says “put me on the road.”
All the magic of a live set is captured, with seemingly endless onstage banter between Muddy and Johnny, and with tunes like “Caledonia,” “Rocket 88,” “Mama Tell Your Daughter,” and a simply red hot version of “Trouble No More” that in a rare moment finds James Cotton singing with Johnny Winter blowing harp.
The show is capped off with Johnny singing a rockin’ “Got My Mojo Workin.’” that shakes the joint to the ground. Excellent liner notes straight from ground zero are provided by Bob Margolin, helping to make this an ultra-special recording that will be cherished by blues fans and old Winter brothers fans just like me world wide.
-Michael Buffalo Smith