Buddy Guy: Live At Legends Review

Anyone who claims to love the blues and also has visited Chicago needs to make the effort to check out Buddy Guy’s Legends nightclub. Live at Legends was recorded there during Buddy’s annual residency in 2010 before they closed the original location and moved it down the street a couple of blocks. It’s hard to believe that Buddy is 76 years old. He is hailed as one of the ambassadors of the blues as evidenced by his recent Kennedy Center Honors induction and was truly an innovator with the electric guitar. Unfortunately this album falls flat on two levels. Luckily there were a couple of tracks laying around from the Living Proof sessions that they threw on the end that rescue this album.

If you’ve ever been to a Buddy concert you can never be sure which Buddy is going to show up. Sometimes you get a cohesive show that blows you away where he really tears it up on the guitar and you get to hear songs from start to finish. Other times you get a disjointed show where Buddy spends more time shushing the band to be quiet, cutting songs short, and trying to show off how he can sound like Clapton, Hendrix, etc. This is one of those times.

The album also suffers from engineering problems primarily caused by Buddy’s dynamic performance. His use of dynamics can be quite dramatic at times in a live show but on this album it causes problems trying to listen to it. One minute you’re listening to the band jam away and then Buddy starts talking and the volume goes so low that you can barely hear anything at all. So you turn it up to try to understand what’s going on and get blown away when the band cranks things back up. The album almost sounds like a really poor bootleg.

However, the three outtakes from the Living Proof sessions thrown on to the end of this album are quite good tracks. “Coming for You,” “Country Boy,” and “Polka Dot Love” are excellent studio tracks that remind us what a good songwriter and musician a focused Buddy can be. It’s too bad there weren’t more of these tracks left to share with us. Save yourself the trouble and go see Buddy Guy live. His antics are fun live but don’t translate well on this live album.

The Review: 6/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Coming For You
– Skin Deep
– Country Boy
– Polka Dot Love

The Big Hit

– Polka Dot Love

Review by Kevin O’Rourke

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