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Muddy Waters vs Howlin Wolf

This isn't about who is objectively better. These guys were two great blues artists, with plenty of similarities and differences. Who do you prefer to listen to? Personally, I like Howlin Wolf a little bit more. His growling voice is really cool, and I like how he messes around with the blues formula; Spoonful and Smokestack Lightnin' are a sort of Modal Blues.

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  • Also the feeling that comes through Muddy's slide guitar playing is as good an answer as any to the question "What is the Blues?"
    • Yeah, the E-A-B or 1-4-5 is an awesome progression. I've got some friends who hate it because they think it is boring and overdone, but it is so enduring because it works so well. One guy I know, who knows a lot about music theory, was trying to explain to me how, through chord substitutions, the 2-5-1 chord progression is a version of the 1-4-5. I don't remember exactly how he did it. The 2-5-1 is, as I am sure most people here know, an essential part of jazz.

      Muddy's guitar playing is... harder to figure out mathematically. I guess it has to do with his feel for the microtones he hits with his slide. I don't know too much about that. All I know is that whatever the math is, the music feels great.

    • Sounds like a fantastic concert! I love the Howlin Wolf London album with Clapton.

    • I get it Frames.... play it loud, and you have The Who, right? Incidentally I can't decide if it's worth the $65 for a ticket to see John Mayall later this month.... any thoughts?

    • Makes me think of one of Muddy's later songs, "The Blues Had A Baby (And They Named The Baby Rock And Roll)."
  • I would choose Muddy but Wolf is still top notch. Mud had so many great musicians around him over the years as well in his heydey; Otis Spann piano, Little Walter harmonica, Jimmy Rogers guitar. Wolf had Hubert Sumlin on guitar. Both had great vocal delivery for certain. I always thought of Wolf as a lovable gentle giant but apparently this was not the case as documented in Buddy Guy's latest autobiography. They both collaborated on the Chess release Super Super Blues Band with Bo Diddley. Wolf recorded for Sam Phillips in Memphis before working with Chess in Chicago. The movie Cadillac Records is a decent if skewed portrayal of the Chess Records story, featuring both Muddy and Wolf.
    • Cool! I'll look for the film.

  • If you like those tunes you should listen to "Louise" by Howlin' Wolf, its a great blues number that is under appreciated. These blues artists made me want to pick up an instrument myself, as a matter of fact. Big Mama Thornton is also a really good singer as well.........

    Do you like other genres as well?

    • Other genres besides blues? Of course. Other subgenres of blues? Yeah, anything from Robert Johnson to Jazz Blues and beyond.

      Big Mama Thorton is fantastic. Ball and Chain is an incredible song, made even more incredible by Janis and the psychedelic guitarists with Big Brother and the Holding Company years later.

      Do you play an instrument? I've been playing piano for nearly a year, although not seriously until a few months ago.

    • Yeah, i started off on piano around 10-13 or so, now i'm studying guitar. 

      I used to like Janis' versions but when I heard the african american original versions

      i thought those were a bit better, although I like Janis' own material....

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