Muddy Waters was known to UK record buyers long before Pye started giving Chess blues artists serious promotion in 1963. The iconic Best Of Muddy Waters album had come out on London in 1958, while singles and EPs of Muddy’s music had been appearing on UK labels since the mid-50s.
The most desirable of these was this Vogue EP, containing early classics I Can’t Be Satisfied and I Feel Like Going Home, from 1948, and Louisiana Blues and the instrumental Evans Shuffle from 1950, the latter two featuring Little Walter.
The notes by Alexis Korner betray the date: “Little is known about [Muddy’s] personal life… [he] is a strange singer and guitarist”, while Little Walter’s harmonica-playing “is reminiscent of Blind Sonny Terry”. The cover sketch is by Paul Oliver, five years away from publishing his ground-breaking book Blues Fell This Morning. In 1956, London responded with their own EP called Mississippi Blues, featuring four later Chess recordings and a different Oliver illustration.
The Vogue EP attracts wildly varying prices, according to whether it’s the more sought-after tri-centre pressing rather then the round-centre, and to the state of the 60-year-old lamination on the sleeve. The music has been round the block over and over again, in every format, but these remain some of the most potent sides Muddy put on record./o:p