Live at Legends
I have never been lucky enough to be in Chicago when Buddy Guy was playing at his blues club. Knowing my luck, I figured I would never get a chance to hear it. But this new release, featuring a set from 2010, does a very good job of replicating the experience. In addition to showcasing Guy's consummate ability to shift from grungy blues chords to fiery rock licks in a heartbeat, the show includes some very affable stage banter with the crowd. We are treated to some staple blues tracks, including a fine version of the Muddy Waters classic "Mannish Boy," but the real gems here are the medleys of blues standards with Cream classics. Both "Sunshine of Your Love" (coming in after "Boom Boom") and "Strange Brew" (merging in after "Voodoo Chile") get some love here as Guy pays tribute to his old friend Eric Clapton, and the crowd laps it up.
In addition to the 8-track live set, three previously unreleased studio tracks close out the album. While the songs are fine, the sudden lack of crowd energy really feels like a let down. Maybe if they had opened the album it would have felt different. In any case, the live set is a blistering example of a blues legend showcased in front of a crowd ready to soak it all in. If you have recently been introduced to Guy through The Kennedy Center Honors, this is a great sampler to dip your toes into his style. And if, like me, you always wanted but have not been able to see him live, this sounds like the next best thing.