Got my mojo working.
January 6, 2008 6:17 AM   Subscribe

Got My Mojo Working was written by the little-known Preston Foster and first recorded in 1956 by the only slightly better-known Ann Cole. It was, of course, the Muddy Waters version that became the hit and a signature song for him: he sang it throughout his entire career, and it has become one of the best-known blues standards of all time. The song itself just has a lot of mojo, you know, so naturally plenty of others have covered it through the years: a small sampling from the YouTubes would include Carl Perkins, Willie Dixon, Elvis Presley, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, JJ Cale, Pinetop Perkins and Louis Jordan. Hell, even Bobby Darin couldn't resist the mojo!. NOTE: Check hoverovers for link descriptions.

&creativeAThe original Ann Cole recording is included on the compilation CD Jump, Jive and Swing from Rhino Records.

And just for good measure, Lightnin' Hopkins, in a slamming performance of Mojo Hand, and, what the hell, let's hear that one again!

Also, JB Lenoir's The Mojo Boogie.

Last but not least, Wille Dixon, the bassist and singer seen in one of the Muddy Waters clips and in his own cover of the tune in another clip from this FPP, was of course one of the great songwriters of the blues, a giant figure. I made an FPP on him a while back, which is here.
posted by flapjax at midnite (19 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
what no NRBQ with "Howard Johnson's Got His HoJo Workin'?"

(great post)
posted by jonmc at 6:20 AM on January 6, 2008

A little mojo shopping trip, but not for one of the jewel encrusted mummified monkey hands, those are the only ones that really work in my experience.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:50 AM on January 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Man, now I want a vibraphone.
posted by itchylick at 6:56 AM on January 6, 2008

Stellar post, mr flapjax, I am happily digesting. But I came here to note that in the live Pinetop Perkins clip, he is 93 years old - if that ain't a testament to the power of mojo magic, I don't know what is!

StickyCarpet, absolutely love your thread addition, thanks.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:34 AM on January 6, 2008

Once again, you've got your MeFi working, flapjax. I guess I always thought Willie Dixon wrote that song, since he was responsible for so many of those (presumably) traditional blues tunes you'd think originated with slaves in the 1800s.

When I was a kid I lumped Bobby Darin in with all the other teen idols of the day — Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell — but the more I learn about him I think he really did have his own mojo. (As the Bonzo Dog Band used to ask, can blue men sing the whites?) Pretty interesting, for him to add some good vibes to the blues (and to my mind, get away with it).

According to the Wiki, Darin asked a then unknown Richard Pryor to open his nightclub gigs. And he could do (of all things) a great Walter Brennan impersonation in the middle of channeling Hollywood.
posted by LeLiLo at 7:40 AM on January 6, 2008

Sweet! That's one of my all-time favorite songs. Great post!
posted by RussHy at 7:47 AM on January 6, 2008

Fabulous selection of renditions, love the Gatemouth!
I would throw this 1973 Junior Wells into the mix - he has a nice backup band going too.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:54 AM on January 6, 2008

My fave is the Paul Butterfield Blues Band version on their first album. No youtube however.
posted by dobbs at 7:56 AM on January 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Superb post, flapjax! And thanks, lelilo, for that Darin clip—it gave me a whole new level of respect for the guy. Who knew?
posted by languagehat at 7:59 AM on January 6, 2008

Great post!

My own contribution: this juicy version by the Grateful Dead (w/Lee Oscar from War sitting in on harp!), performed on 10-21-1978 at Winterland. (Via Link takes you to the home page for this show; streamed version in embedded player, track 18. For the cognoscenti, the version of The Other One that immediately follows Got My Mojo Working is absolutely incendiary.)
posted by mosk at 9:43 AM on January 6, 2008

Don't forget Jimmy Smith's version.
posted by mike3k at 12:06 PM on January 6, 2008

If I'm not mistaken, The Zombies did a pretty nice version as well.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 12:17 PM on January 6, 2008

Now that I think about it, I'm with dobbs. That old Butterfield Blues Band version is my favorite, too. A terrific album all around, in fact; as was their second, East-West (including a Monkees song!).

p.s. One take on that band.
posted by LeLiLo at 1:31 PM on January 6, 2008

Don't forget Jimmy Smith's version.

Glad it was remembered, it's a corker.
posted by mattoxic at 3:25 PM on January 6, 2008

Hey, great links from everyone in this thread! Thanks to all!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:40 PM on January 6, 2008

The Ann Cole and her Suburbans version is flippin' wonderful. IIRC, it's the live version Muddy heard which made him want to record the song. It's available on Rhino's "Blues Originals", which I recommend highly. Not sure if it's the same version flapjax referenced, or if that's a studio cut.

Great song, regardless.
posted by SaintCynr at 5:29 PM on January 6, 2008

Hey, I got my mojo workin', and I thought you'd like to know.

Also my favorite version ever. Any friend of the Fellows is a friend of mine!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:47 PM on January 6, 2008

Got my mojo working in a porch jam by Who Hit John, Mefi's own Baby_Balrog's band.
posted by micayetoca at 9:03 PM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

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