By the time the first tracks on this compilation were recorded, late 1958/early1959, Muddy Waters was a veteran star of Chicago blues. He’d come a long way from his first tentative recordings made for folklorist Alan Lomax 16 years earlier; twelve of his Chess singles had entered the R&B charts, most rising to the Top 10. He had just returned from his first - but hardly his last – visit to England, and immediately went back to Chess to record.
However, times were a-changing. Whereas Muddy previously would record four or six tracks to be issued over time as singles, by track 5 on this new collection he was recording songs specifically for his first completely newly recorded album, “Muddy Waters Sings Big Bill,” a marvelous tribute to one of the artist’s major influences, Big Bill Broonzy. Then, within a year, Muddy recorded one of the first great live blues albums, “Muddy Waters At Newport,” a landmark recording that, among other things, produced the fiery two part “Got My Mojo Working.”
These two early classic blues albums are at the heart of this compilation of Muddy’s masters from 1958 to 1963, but this 49 tracker also features a number of the artist’s most renowned recordings not immediately intended for LP, like the title track, “You Need Love,” and “Walking Thru The Park” as well as such rarely anthologized tracks as “Real Love,” “Brown Skin Woman,” “Down By The Deep Blue Sea” and “Read Way Back” -- the latter with Willie Dixon providing a rare bass vocal.
Furthermore, the set includes the previously unreleased instrumental of “Sweet Black Angel,” featuring Earl Hooker on guitar. This great music is amplified by insightful liner notes by blues expert Mary Katherin Aldin and numerous photo portraits of Muddy, including a rare pic of a young Muddy Waters shaking hands with Big Bill Broonzy.