Buddy Guy - guitar, vocals; Junior Wells - vocals, harmonica; Kenny Ray - bass; Douglas Fagen - tenor saxophone; Philip Guy - guitar; Merle Perkins - drums
In early January of 1978, Buddy Guy and the Junior Wells Blues Band took to the Bottom Line stage for a three-day showing of classic funky blues. At the time of this performance, both Buddy Guy and Junior Wells were renowned blues musicians—Buddy Guy a powerful guitarist who played with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and whom Eric Clapton once described as the best guitar player alive, and Junior Wells a notable Chicago blues singer and harmonica player who at 16 years old, was playing alongside Muddy Waters and other legendary jazz and blues figures. Needless to say, the dynamic presence of these two musical powerhouses crafted a soulful and invigorating onstage presence that this audience was clearly thrilled to be a part of.
Wells and Buddy Guy teamed up in 1965, commencing a long-running touring and recording partnership that ended in the 1990s, so by the time they played this show in New York City, they were comfortable with one another and certainly had a special onstage camaraderie. They released a number of blues albums together, most recently at the time of this show Live at Montreux in 1977, and the year following this performance they released Pleading the Blues.
This special performance is kicked off with an instrumental, funky horn-driven jam and goes into a soulful rendition of "Inflation" with Wells' signature voice accenting a heavily instrumental composition. The crowd is highly enthusiastic and the palpable energy drives the performance along, with highlights including the 13-minute "I Can't Quit You Baby," during which Buddy Guy introduces the rest of the band, including his brother Philip on guitar. He effectively hushes the audience into submission and then effortless picks things up into the kind of emotive blues he became known for. Soon after, Junior Wells takes over and rocks out on the harmonica.
Overall, this is a wonderful testament to authentic funky blues delivered by two of the more influential figures in music.