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Monday, February 22, 2016

Buddy Guy: Live At Legends


1) Intro; 2) Best Damn Fool; 3) Mannish Boy; 4) I Just Want To Make Love To You / Chicken Heads; 5) Skin Deep; 6) Damn Right I Got The Blues; 7) Boom Boom / Strange Brew; 8) Voodoo Chile / Sunshine Of Your Love / Keep On Truckin'; 9) Polka Dot Love; 10) Coming For You; 11) Country Boy.

A fairly typical live show from Buddy in his seventies, actually recorded in the same year as Living Proof and burning with the same aching desire to prove that the man still got it — like ʻ74 Years Youngʼ on the studio record, this one opens with a kill-'em-all version of ʻBest Damn Foolʼ that is supposed to whomp your ass once and for all, so that even if he gets mellower or sloppier later on, the initial impression lasts long enough to keep you going all the way. You've heard it all before, but it never hurts to get another set of those insane trills from the man.

The setlist is heavy on classic hits and oldies, some of which were picked from the classic rock repertoire to please the listeners — in one hilarious medley, Buddy gives his condensed readings of ʻVoodoo Chileʼ and ʻSunshine Of Your Loveʼ, and in another one, he juxtaposes John Lee Hooker's ʻBoom Boomʼ with Cream's ʻStrange Brewʼ as an illustration of what happened to the blues once it made the Transatlantic crossing (although, to be honest, his guitar on ʻStrange Brewʼ sounds far more like solo Clapton than Cream-era Clapton — for one thing, where's the woman tone? Bad illustration). In another creative fit, he merges Muddy Waters' ʻI Just Want To Make Love To Youʼ with the Bobby Rush tune ʻChicken Headsʼ, funkifying the former and bluesifying the latter in the process. "I'm gonna fuck up all these songs tonight", he admits with disarming honesty, much to the audience's delight.

It's too bad the one song he didn't dare "fuck up" was ʻSkin Deepʼ, the pathetic equality anthem from the 2008 album — the only redeeming thing about which used to be Derek Trucks' weeping slide, but Derek ain't here, so there's nothing redeeming about it any more, and it just doesn't fit among all the rip-roaring blues-rock, not even as a «breather». Unless you do care about Buddy Guy as a soul singer, feel free to just skip it and enjoy the flamethrower rendition of ʻDamn Rightʼ instead.

Note that the last three songs here are attached studio recordings: ʻPolka Dot Loveʼ is a rather boring piece of slow blues, and ʻCountry Boyʼ is an even slower cover of the Muddy Waters song with another annoying attempt by Buddy to closely mimick his predecessor's vocals, but at least ʻComing For Youʼ has some cool wah-wah funk guitar (the song itself is an attempt to write something in the style of Sam & Dave's ʻHold On I'm Comingʼ). Honestly, though, it would have been nicer to get more live material instead — it's not as if the man were now limiting himself to playing short 40-minute sets, right? He's just 76 years young, after all.

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