Can’t Get No Grindin’ is, surprisingly, the only Muddy Waters album in the Hall of Fame that was actually recorded as an album, not a compilation of singles and older material. Chess veteran Ralph Bass produced the set in Chicago during the period after the company had been sold to GRT of New York but while the last Chess building and studio still stood at 320 E. 21st Street. Most of Muddy’s working band, joined by alumnus James Cotton on harp, backed him on a quickly recorded session (Bass preferred live spontaneity to perfected multiple takes when producing blues) that found the master and his crew in fine form, delivering the kind of blues that made Muddy famous back in the 1950s. Chess had tried to take him in more contemporary directions on other albums of the ’60s and ’70s but ended up with a classic by just letting Muddy cut a straight-ahead, no-frills, no-rock-stars album. The title track, parenthetically subtitled What’s the Matter With the Meal, is actually a rendition of Memphis Minnie’s What’s the Matter With the Mill.

Muddy Waters, vocal and guitar; James Cotton, harmonica; Pinetop Perkins, piano/harpsichord; Pee Wee Madison, guitar; Sam Lawhorn, guitar; Calvin Jones, bass; Willie Smith, drums. Recorded March 1972, at Chess (Ter-Mar) Recording Studios, Chicago.

Released as Chess CH 50023 (LP) in August 1973 .Released as MCA Chess CHD 9319 (CD) on Aug. 17, 1990.

— Jim O’Neal