11 Songs, 59 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After producing and playing on Muddy Waters’ 1977 LP Hard Again, Johnny Winter fulfilled a lifetime dream by setting out to tour with Waters and legendary Chicago harpest James Cotton. Breakin’ It Up & Breakin’ It Down captures the highlights of that tour, which offered a blues connoisseur’s dream lineup. In addition to Winter, Waters, and Cotton, there are two more heavyweight Chicago warriors: Pinetop Perkins is on piano and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith is on drums. Considering that these men were getting on in years, and that Winter was best known for his roaring Hendrix-style instrumentals, it’s amazing how fleet-footed the performances are. There’s a light touch to “Caledonia,” “Rocket 88,” and “Mama Talk to Your Daughter” not often associated with the hacksaw approach of '70s blues. There are moments where the band summons its bulk and brimstone (like on “Black Cat Bone/Dust My Broom”), but the lasting impression is the jazziness they bring to “Got My Mojo Workin’.” Best of all is “Can’t Be Satisfied.” Winter could have crowded Waters, but instead he hangs back, turning in a version that's very close to Waters’ bony, rubbery original from 1941.

EDITORS’ NOTES

After producing and playing on Muddy Waters’ 1977 LP Hard Again, Johnny Winter fulfilled a lifetime dream by setting out to tour with Waters and legendary Chicago harpest James Cotton. Breakin’ It Up & Breakin’ It Down captures the highlights of that tour, which offered a blues connoisseur’s dream lineup. In addition to Winter, Waters, and Cotton, there are two more heavyweight Chicago warriors: Pinetop Perkins is on piano and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith is on drums. Considering that these men were getting on in years, and that Winter was best known for his roaring Hendrix-style instrumentals, it’s amazing how fleet-footed the performances are. There’s a light touch to “Caledonia,” “Rocket 88,” and “Mama Talk to Your Daughter” not often associated with the hacksaw approach of '70s blues. There are moments where the band summons its bulk and brimstone (like on “Black Cat Bone/Dust My Broom”), but the lasting impression is the jazziness they bring to “Got My Mojo Workin’.” Best of all is “Can’t Be Satisfied.” Winter could have crowded Waters, but instead he hangs back, turning in a version that's very close to Waters’ bony, rubbery original from 1941.

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