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Electric Mud is a 1968 album by Muddy Waters which mixed blues with psychedelic rock arrangements on several of Waters' classic songs. The album peaked at #127 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart.


In 1968, Chess Records made an attempt to modernize the sound of bluesmen Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters by convincing them to record Jimi Hendrix-inspired psychedelic arrangements resulting in the albums Electric Mud and The Howlin' Wolf Album.

Marshall Chess assembled what he referred to as "the hottest, most avant garde rock guys in Chicagomarker" for the album sessions. In place of Muddy Waters' regular musicians were Gene Barge, Pete Cosey, Roland Faulkner, Morris Jennings, Louis Satterfield, Charles Stepney and Phil Upchurch. Cosey, Upchurch and Jennings joked about calling the group "The Electric Niggers". Marshall Chess liked the suggestion, but Leonard Chess refused to allow the name.

The album incorporates use of wah-wah pedal and fuzzbox. Marshall Chess augmented the rhythm of Muddy Waters' live band with the use of electric organ and saxophone.


Electric Mud sold 150,000 copies within the first six weeks of release. Peaking at #127 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart, it was Muddy Waters' first album to hit on the Billboard and Cash Box charts. According to Robert Gordon in Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters, the valet of Jimi Hendrix later told Pete Cosey that Hendrix would listen to "Herbert Harper's Free Press News" for inspiration before performing. Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones cited Electric Mud as the inspiration for the riff of "Black Dog". Although American critics panned the album, it was better received in England. According to Marshall Chess, "It was the biggest Muddy Waters record we ever had at Chess, and it dropped instantly. The English accepted it; they are more eccentric."


Muddy Waters recorded After the Rain the following year, incorporating elements of the sound of Electric Mud. According to Cosey, "I'll never forget, as soon as I walked into the studio for the follow-up and Muddy saw me, he threw his arms around me, said 'Hey, how you doing, boy, play some of that stuff you played on that last album.'" Following strong criticism of the album, Muddy Waters claimed that he disliked the album and its sound, and that he did not consider the album to be blues. He stated, "Every time I go into Chess, [they] put some un-blues players with me [...] If you change my sound, then you gonna change the whole man." In the biography The Mojo Man, Muddy Waters stated "That Electric Mud record was dogshit. But when it came out, it started selling like wild, but then they started sending them back. They said, 'This can't be Muddy Waters with all this shit going on, all this wha-wha and fuzztone.'"

In Lost in the Grooves: Scram's Capricious Guide to the Music You Missed, Gene Sculatti wrote that "The rhythm seems to anticipate hip-hop by three decades." Chuck D stated that he had been introduced to Electric Mud by a member of Public Enemy, which sparked an interest in Muddy Waters' earlier work, and in roots-oriented blues. The documentary series The Blues, produced by Martin Scorsese, depicts the recording band for Electric Mud performing with Chuck D and members of The Roots.

Track listing



Additional personnel

  • Stu Black — engineer
  • Marshall Chess — producer
  • Meire Murakami — design
  • Bill Sharpe — cover design
  • Abner Spector — mixing
  • Vartan — art direction

Chart positions

Chart (1968) Peak Position
Pop Albums 127


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