In the 60s when Buddy toured Britain as a part of blues package tours he was always the youngest bluesmen on the bill but he angered critics by including James Brown songs and other recent soul numbers in his act. He's kept this interest in current music throughout his career and his recent albums have been mainly in the rock blues idiom. However, when I saw him a couple of years ago at the Maryport Blues Festival he was absolutely wonderful one the best blues artists I've ever seen in nearly 50 years, he could go from subtle beautifully played thoughtful blues to flat out funk and rock - a true master.
This album leans towards rock with its glossy Tom Hambridge production and although Buddy could easily fill the double album on his own he shares several songs with high-profile guests including Kid Rock, Keith Urban, Gary Clark Jr. and Beth Hart, as well as Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford from Aerosmith. Buddy's trademark stinging guitar playing is still first rate and and his singing is still really powerful and the band back him superbly all the way, although I'm afraid that I found some of the songs a bit routine. Of the guest performances I really enjoyed Gary Clark on the rocking "Blues don't care" and Beth and Buddy really tear it up on "What you gonna do about me" and, surprisingly, country singer Keith Urban and Buddy come up with one the album's most subtle and successful tracks "One day away" but I'm afraid Kid Rock can't match Junior Wells' performance on "Messing with the kid". Elsewhere Buddy turns in fine performances on two odes to Chi Town - "Best in town" and "Meet me in Chicago", "Whiskey Ghost" is a nice 'haunting' blues, "I could die happy" is a rolling blues with a strange mixture of acoustic guitar and screaming electric and my favourite track was probably the reflective "All that makes me happy is the blues". I found this album as good as anything Buddy has done for years and a lot better than some.