Big Mama Thornton

With the Muddy Waters Blues Band-1966

Impressive Alabama blues shouter Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton (who, by the way, had a U.S. hit in 1953 with “Hound Dog” three years before Elvis Presley did) died in 1984. But, lest we forget her (and we shouldn’t), Arhoolie Records has recently re-released an album of her 1966 recording session—the originally released 10 tracks plus seven more—with the Muddy Waters Blues Band (including the wonderful Otis Spann on piano). Raw and at times rough (the rhythm section isn’t always totally together, but frankly that’s part of the gutsy charm), the CD is nevertheless a gem. When you hear Thornton, in her big, inimitable, joy-inspiring voice, singing the sassy lyrics to “Black Rat” (“You is one black rat/ Someday I’ll find your trail/ I’m gonna hide my shoe/ Somewhere close to your shirttail”) or “Big Mama’s Bumble Bee Blues” (“Bumblebee, bumblebee, why don’t you come back home?/ You got the best stinger of any bumblebee I ever seen”), well, you just gotta love it!