"Big" Bill Morganfield
Nineteen Years Old: A Tribute to Muddy Waters
Taxim TX 1047

Nineteen Years Old is a no-frills album highlighting Big Bill Morganfield’s vocal ability. Although released after Rising Son, Morganfield’s Blind Pig Records debut, this recording — a tribute to his father, the legendary McKinley Morganfield (better known as Muddy Waters) — actually predates it. Here Big Bill delivers sounds ranging from the traditional Delta blues to the heavy Chicago style pioneered by his dad, and his vocals range from gurgling growls to charming pleas for love and understanding.

Nineteen Years Old opens with a superb rendition of Muddy’s "Rock Me," a straight-ahead heavy electrified blues. Big Bill’s delivery of the title track is one of the album’s highlights, set against the shivering guitar sounds that Muddy popularized, and he shows off his compositional strength via the delightful stroll of a jazzy "I’m a Fool." He then swaps back and forth between Muddy Waters tributes and Big Bill originals, throwing in a brilliant rendition of the Bobby Charles song "Why Do People Act Like That" that features more of an R&B feel.

Morganfield has selected an all-star cast to work with him on this recording, including former Muddy Waters Band member Bob Margolin (guitar), Blind Mississippi Morris (harmonica), Robert Nighthawk II (piano and harmonica), Billy Earl McClelland (guitar), Aram Doroff (bass), Al Gamble (harmonica) and Darin James (drums).

Nineteen Years Old is essential listening, and it could even be taken as evidence that there may well be a genetic predisposition to sing and play great authentic blues.

— Ben Hulette

©2000 Blues Access, Boulder, Colorado, USA