Big Bill Morganfield

Big Bill Morganfield
Born Lover

Black Shuck Records - Vizztone Label Group

By Rachel Lee
October 2009

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For his fourth American release, Big Bill Morganfield reunited with producers Bob Margolin and Brian Bisesi to craft an album that is a fine mixture of Morganfield originals, Chess Records nuggets and somewhat obscure R&B covers. With a crack band led by the legendary Margolin on guitar (who also played for Morganfield’s father, Muddy Waters) and Bisesi on bass, Born Lover showcases Morganfield’s increasingly intimate knowledge of the genre. It is clear that the former schoolteacher has done his homework.

The album starts out with the classic “Too Late Brother,” with the Handy Award-nominated Steve Guyger reprising Little Walter’s harp lines, before moving on to a Morganfield original, “High Gas Prices.” While the price of gas may have come down since the song was written, it is still a rocking piece of work. It’s slightly funky with some fuzz guitar and is overlaid with a mean riff.

On Buddy Guy’s “My Love Is Real” Morganfield changes gears and tries his hand at a more traditional soul ballad, adding a nice change of pace. Here his voice sounds higher and clearer than anywhere else on the record and the doo-wop chord changes and cocktail lounge piano from Clark Stern give it a dreamy feel.

In a cluster of songs that sound like they could have been recorded right at Chess Studios in the ‘50s, a bit of variety is added with the New Orleans-styled “You’ve Got The Nerve Of A Big Brass Monkey,” earlier recorded by Fillmore Slim. The tempo changes again with a funky feel and prominent Hammond organ on “I Play Dirty,” made famous by Little Milton.

Like his brother Larry “Mud” Morganfield, it’s amazing how much Big Bill can sound like Muddy Waters. While not exactly a clone, he often sings in the same range and has some of the same guttural stylings as his father.

Several years ago Morganfield won the W.C. Handy award for best new artist. The more albums he puts out the easier it is to hear why.

Big Bill Morganfield is performing at Chan’s in Woonsocket, Rhode Island on October 17.

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