Love Letter To A Record: Kitty, Daisy & Lewis On Muddy Waters’ ‘At Newport 1960’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.

Lewis Durham: Muddy Waters – At Newport 1960

Dear Muddy Waters / At Newport 1960,

I listened to you last about a month ago at my niece’s (Daisy’s daughter’s) first birthday. It was in the kitchen. In fact, you live in my kitchen, propped between the Garrard 4HF turntable and one of two Tannoy speakers in a non-PVC plastic sleeve. This is where most of the records are played. It was about 3am and we had been playing disco records, then a mood change was called for and you went on from start to finish.

I grew up listening to your music, but discovered this LP when I was in my mid teens. I first discovered it as I had heard a single version of probably the most widely-known track on the disc, ‘Got My Mojo Working’. The energy hit me instantly and I found out what it was and bought it from a now shut down shop in Camden Town, where I live. I bought it from a DJ called El Nino who was an avid collector of jazz, R&B and blues and introduced me to many sides I still listen to. He is sadly no longer with us. I think he sold it to me for £8 as I only had £10 on me and I explained that wanted to get a beer with the change. It is not a rare disc, as it was fairly popular at the time of its release and reissue versions from the 1980’s are available.

I went home and listened to the disc back-to-back for many weeks and got to know it intimately. I also remember being rather cheeky at that age and when I was asked by my mate’s teacher why I hadn’t done my home work I replied with, “Sorry sir but I was listening to Muddy Waters innit”. Detention.

Muddy Waters at Newport 1960 is a nine-track live album just over half an hour long recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival, Rhode Island on November 15th 1960. The band features a fantastic lineup including band leader Otis Spann (piano), Pat Hare (guitar), James Cotton (harmonica), Francis Clay (drums) and the less known Andrew Stevens on electric bass.

I only discovered later that there had been big riots at the festival that year, and the national guard had to be called in to deal with the problem. This kicked off during Ray Charles’ gig. Muddy’s performance took place the day after these riots.

The album opens with an introduction from Muddy followed by two songs penned by Willie Dixon, the second of which being one of Muddy’s most well know, ‘I’m Your Hootchie Cootchie Man’. However the tracks that touch me most are ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, ‘Tiger In Your Tank’ and the whole of the second side which features the two part mojo frenzy which first brought me to finding this disc.

This disc has no concept; it is just a historical slice of what the Muddy’s Waters band’s set was at that time which is evidently a party set. It has to be considered that most of the time this band played, it was in clubs where there was drinking, drugs, dancing and fighting.

One of the tracks which stand out in particular for me is ‘Goodbye Newport Blues’ which is the last song on the disc and the only song not sung by Muddy, it is sung by bandleader and pianist, Otis Spann. I find this track has a tremendous eeriness to it which always makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I am however probably slightly biased as Otis Spann’s voice is one of my favourite voices to listen to along with his piano playing.

I’ll continue to listen to you for the rest of my life.

Cheers, Lewis

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis’s 4th studio album Superscope is out now. Catch them performing live in Sydney and Melbourne in February 2018. Dates below.

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis 2018 Australian Tour Dates

Wednesday, 14th February

w/ The Morrisons

The Factory, Sydney

Tickets: Secret Sounds

Thursday, 15th February

w /Guests Harrison Storm

The Corner, Melbourne

Tickets: Secret Sounds

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