BUDDY GUY: LIVE: THE REAL DEAL (1996)
1) I've Got My Eyes On You; 2) Sweet Black Angel; 3) Talk To Me Baby; 4) My Time After Awhile; 5) I've Got News For You; 6) Damn Right I've Got The Blues; 7) First Time I Met The Blues; 8) Ain't That Lovin' You; 9) Let Me Love You Baby.
Buddy's first live album of the «comeback» era — recorded at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago with, would you believe it, the Saturday Night Live band itself backing the man. That is no mock irony, though, since the SNL band at the time included George Edward Smith, a first-rate guitarist with an impressive pedigree; additionally, Buddy is joined by Johnnie Johnson, who had already stuck with him on the latest studio album. On the whole, the backing band is top notch, the audience is responding wildly, and good vibes are flying all around the place.
The most interesting part here is probably the setlist which, with the exception of the man's comeback anthem (ʽDamn Right I've Got The Bluesʼ), consists completely and entirely of old classics; not a single new tune from the last two records anywhere in sight. He even does ʽFirst Time I Met The Bluesʼ, his first single from way back — which shows that he is not particularly impressed by his own new material, or, more accurately, that he probably recognizes how it's mostly just variations on the old themes, and when we're in concert, why not just stick to the old themes in person? Instead of trying to create the illusion of coming up with something new, it works better for him when he is just pouring his heart into the old.
That said, this is a pretty awesome guitar battle between Buddy and Smith that they get going on ʽDamn Right I've Got The Bluesʼ, as the backing horns goad them into brutal action against each other — almost putting the original to shame. ʽLet Me Love You Babyʼ is also reprised in the Damn Right version, with horns and stuff and those guitar wails occasionally getting out of harmony with the rhythm section for reasons of an ecstatic character. Much of the album, however, is given over to the slow and subtle — such as a 13-minute version of ʽI've Got News For Youʼ, with a lengthy Johnnie Johnson solo and other members of the band taking their turns as well (I'm assuming it's G. E. Smith responsible for the short, but classy slide guitar solo, since Buddy does not play the slide much — to which Buddy then answers with one of his sexiest vibratos). I do not know why he feels such a pressing need to steal ʽSweet Black Angelʼ from under B. B. King's nose — that's one of King's greatest trademarks, and even though Buddy does a very good job mimicking the man's silky-sweet Lucille tone, Buddy is Buddy, and B. B. is B. B.
Other than the purist attitude, I'd say the biggest advantage of The Real Deal is the party attitude: thankfully, Buddy does not go for a lot of audience interaction, but every once in a while, the people out there make sure to let us know they love him, and he makes sure to let us know that he loves them, and it's all cool. There's definitely more fun in the air than at an Eric Clapton concert, even if that does not necessarily mean that there's more going on than at an Eric Clapton concert, if you know what I mean.