The Best of Muddy Waters was the first compilation of Muddy’s classic singles for the LP market, listed among the new releases in an April 1958 issue of Billboard. It was only the third LP ever issued by Chess, and the first that was strictly blues. There may be more tracks on subsequent reissues and repackagings of Muddy’s Chess work, but even today these 12 tracks still represent the best of Muddy Waters to many listeners. All were recorded from 1948 to 1954 for Aristocrat or Chess, including early tracks that echo Muddy’s Delta blues roots (I Can’t Be Satisfied, Rollin’ Stone, Still a Fool, She Moves Me) as well as the later Willie Dixon songs that explode with big city swagger like Hoochie Coochie (as it’s titled here ‘ better known as I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man), I’m Ready, and I Just Want to Make Love to You. Not only is the king of Chicago blues in his prime as a potent singer and guitarist, he’s also backed by the cream of the crop, including Little Walter on most tracks. Liner notes are by noted Chicago author Studs Terkel.

Tracks: I Just Want to Make Love to You, Long Distance Call, Louisiana Blues, Honey Bee, Rollin’ Stone, I’m Ready, Hoochie Coochie, She Moves Me, I Want You to Love Me, Standing Around Crying, Still a Fool, I Can’t Be Satisfied.

Released as Chess LP 1427 in 1958; reissued as Chess LP CH-9255, cassette CHC-9255, and on CD as MCA/Chess CHD-31268.

For session details of each track, see The Blues Discography 1943-1970 by Les Fancourt & Bob McGrath.

— Jim O’Neal