For his fourth Telarc release, Junior Wells delivers an energetic, 11-tune live-recorded performance at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago, Illinois. The godfather of the blues sings, moans and groans the lyrics, punctuating his messages with imaginative harmonica playing.
Wells' fervent presentation is backed by a driving rhythm section comprised of Brian Berkowitz (keys), Vernal Taylor (drums), Johnnie Bennie (bass), and vibrant horn players Joseph Burton (trombone), Douglas Fagan (sax), and Mike Barber (trumpet). Guitar soloists John Boric and Andy Wahllof add to the thick, full-band arrangements. And, in those moments when Wells works solely with organ or piano, his riveting note-bending vocals hold the blues club audience in the palm of his hand.
Wells needs almost no introduction. Classified as one of the world's best blues harmonica players in the Chicago electric-era style, Wells performed with the Muddy Waters Band in the 1950s and has successfully led his own bands since the 1960s, infusing his blues with influences from contemporary rock and soul.
Wells is a master. On Live at Buddy Guy's Legends, he revitalizes blues classics such as "Hoo Doo Man," "Got my Mojo Working," "Messin' With the Kid," Blues is All Right," as well as originals.
This live performance from the legendary bluesman captures the essence of the Chicago blues which Wells helped to shape. Combining funky beats with urban blues, Wells enthralls his audience with jocular, ribald, down-on-your-luck expressions. The energy and musicianship of his marvelous band, combined with Wells' ingenuity at shaping lyrics and blues harp solos, makes Live at Buddy Guy's Legends a top blues pick for 1997.