The Chess Box

by: Muddy Waters

The Chess Box does not contain all the great music Muddy Waters made. His talent and legacy are too large to be captured in a mere three discs, even one that spans from 1947 to 1972. This means, of course, that his legendary plantation recordings with Alan Lomax are not here, nor is his dynamic late-'70s comeback, Hard Again. But, truth be told, it doesn't feel like they're missing, since Waters' legend was built on the music that he made for Chess, and much of the greatest of that is here. Few box sets have chronicled an artist's best work as effectively as this; even the handful of rare, previously unreleased recordings sit perfectly next to the essential singles (this is particularly true of alternate takes of Fathers and Sons material). Sure, there are great Chess sides that aren't here, but those are great sides that the serious listener and aficionado need to seek out. For everybody else, this is a monumental chronicle of Waters at his best, illustrating his influence while providing rich, endlessly fascinating music. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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