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Monday, March 14, 2016

Buddy Guy: Live At The Checkerboard Lounge


1) Buddy's Blues (part 1); 2) I've Got A Right To Love My Woman; 3) Tell Me What's Inside Of You; 4) Done Got Over You; 5) The Things I Used To Do; 6) You Don't Know How I Feel; 7) The Dollar Done Fell; 8) Buddy's Blues (part 2); 9) Don't Answer The Door; 10) Tell Me What's Inside Of You (version 2).

For somebody as prolific over the past twenty years as Buddy Guy, the amount of archival re­leases in his catalog is surprisingly small; apparently, he really spent most of his time in the six­ties, seventies, and eighties outside of the studio, and rarely had the opportunity or desire to bo­ther with professional recording equipment during his live shows at the time. Add to this the overall confusion with his pre-Damn Right discography — for this particular archival release, for instance, although all sources agree that it comes from a show at the Checkerboard Lounge in Chicago in 1979 (because that's essentially what the album cover tells you), different sources indicate different years of provenance, from 1979 itself to 1988 to 1995. I've also encountered no less than three different track sequencings, and I think my own copy has a fourth...

...anyway, let the specialists bother about trivia like these; my job is simply to tell people whether the music is any good. Overall, this seems to be typical fare for Buddy in that time period: he is not being too loud or cocky, he is not yet even close to building up his image of a «survivor» or a «blues saviour», he plays lots of «semi-originals» (i. e. generic 12-bar blues tunes with new lyrics made on the spot), and he sounds like a fun guy to hang around with, as he always does. Also, the sound quality, while not perfect, at least indicates a professional recording, although the engineer still deserves a good whipping for tampering too much with the controls; sometimes the rhythm section miraculously disappears, only to re-emerge a few seconds later as the control guy realises he must have overdone it with the volume level on Buddy's mike.

Minor points of interest include: (a) the main melody of Cream's ʻStrange Brewʼ remade into ʻTell Me What's Inside Of Youʼ (the man didn't even bother to change the phrase "inside of you"), which, for some reason, is featured here in two versions, indicating that there was probably more than one show taped after all; (b) Buddy's social conscience flashing in the form of ʻThe Dollar Done Fellʼ, a lengthy funky jam full of complaints against inflation and gasoline prices — essen­tially, though, it's just Buddy doing his clownish James Brown thing all over again; (c) the «ori­ginal» ʻDon't Answer The Doorʼ dropping all pretense and transforming back into ʻSweet Little Angelʼ, replete with loving how she spreads her little wings and all.

It is well possible that I missed a few particularly awesome guitar licks every now and then, but on the whole, this is just predictably solid all the way through — very straightforward blues solo­ing, all the note chains as familiar as your ten fingers. Very little stage banter, too, so maybe this is a better choice for those who love their Buddy as unpretentious and «un-patriarchal» as pos­sible. Otherwise, don't bother.

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