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July 2019

Willie Buck
Willie Buck Way
Delmark Records

Willie Buck

Chicago blues man Willie Buck is one of the last living connections to the ’50s glory days of the Windy City’s postwar blues scene. Now in his eighties, the singer is still a mighty force to be reckoned with, and he proves as much on his third recording for Delmark Records, Willie Buck Way. This is just good old Chicago blues like they used to do it, with Buck writing 12 of the whopping 17 tracks. He’s backed by a band of Chicago all-stars including guitarists Billy Flynn and Thaddeus Krolicki, along with Scott Dirks (harmonica), Johnny Iguana (piano), Bob Stroger (bass), Jimmi Mayes (drums) Big Spider Beck (harmonica/piano), and “Harmonica” Hinds.

Buck’s originals include “You Want Me To Trust You,” a fine old-school shuffle, the upbeat “(All I’m Doin’ Is) Thinkin’ Of You,” the mid-tempo “Bottom Of The Hill,” the funky blues “I Got You (and You Got Me),” the stomper “There’s a Woman,” and the acoustic “My Mind Froze Up” and “Twenty-Four Seven,” the latter pair featuring Hinds on harp. “I Give So Much To You” strikes a particularly catchy groove, and the greasy funky drive of “Heck of a Time” is reminiscent of Magic Slim. The shuffling “The Men Ought To Learn (To Treat The Women Right)” offers wise counsel, and the title track is a tribute to the street in Chicago that honorarily bears his name.

Flynn contributes “Can’t Say Something Good About Me” and provides superb support on guitar throughout, as does Krolicki. The cover list includes the traditional “Crawlin’ King Snake,” a simmering take of the Leroy Carr’s standard “Blues Before Sunrise” (with splendid slide guitar from Flynn), and a pair of lesser-known tracks from Muddy Waters (“Please Have Mercy” and “Look What You Done”) that show the blues legend’s continued influence on Buck’s performing style.

Chicago blues fans need Willie Buck Way in their collection. The singer may have gotten a relatively late start on recording, but it sounds like he’s not going anywhere for a long time, which is good news for blues fans.

--- Graham Clarke



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