Personnel: Willie Buck (vocals); Louis Myers (guitar); Little Mack Simmons (harmonica); Johnny "Big Moose" Walker (keyboards).
Liner Note Author: Scott Dirks.
Recording information: Robert's 500 Room, Chicago (10/04/1982); Sky Hero Recording Studio, Chicago (10/04/1982); Robert's 500 Room, Chicago (1984); Sky Hero Recording Studio, Chicago (1984).
Over four decades, William Crawford aka Willie Buck has raised a family, worked as an auto mechanic, played a bit part in the film Hoop Dreams, and occasionally stepped on-stage in Chicago as a blues singer. Only his rarest recordings have ever been issued, but Delmark Records has finally seen fit to issue a full-length CD, with studio tracks and five live performances, all from the early to mid-'80s. Directly derived from his mentor and main man Muddy Waters, Buck's singing has that lean and tough, clear as a bell, direct edge so typical of his hero, as he covers Mud's tunes and adds a few of his own to this mix. You also hear traces of Magic Sam, Jimmy Reed, and Little Walter, all acknowledged influences over Buck's career that has languished in obscurity. While Buck's voice bears the unmistakable stamp of Waters, it is a bit less pronounced, not quite as gritty, and more soulful. The studio tracks feature many famous Muddy Waters numbers like "She's All Right," with a bit of a Howlin' Wolf sound sneaking in, the lecherous "She's Nineteen Years Old," the stompdown "I Want to Be Loved" (incorrectly titled "I Want You to Love Me"), and the evergreen, upbeat "Got My Mojo Workin'." Help from premier bluesmen like guitarists Louis Myers and John Primer, bassist Dave Myers, and keyboardist Big Moose Walker push the music onward. The five tracks recorded at Robert's 500 Room on 63rd Street in Chi-Town are thin as far as the recording. Buck's voice is in the background as opposed to the instruments, and these tracks are little more than a curiosity, as there must be more well-documented live sessions from Buck somewhere. Overall this is a welcome release, as the world gets to discover a vibrant and talented Willie Buck ostensibly for the first time. ~ Michael G. Nastos
Living Blues (p.66) - "It's a joy to take in the laid-back ensemble work of these musicians who understand that the songs are the focus....It's the power and authority of Buck's voice that's the story here."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.105) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[The album] recalls the manner of Muddy Waters, the confidence of his singing rooted in the rich subsoil of ensemble playing..."