Willie Buck and The Rockin’ Johnny Band - Cell Phone Man (Delmark)
Willie Buck isn’t a man to make concessions to modernity, and his first album of new songs since his self-produced debut thirty years back will delight any blues fan whose heart lies still in the Chicago scene of the ‘50’s golden era.
The full throttle ensemble combining guitars, rhythm, piano and harp is inevitably reminiscent of the Muddy Waters Band, particularly pronounced as it gets into its stride three numbers in on the great man’s own ‘Strange Woman’, one of four songs borrowed from his extensive catalogue. In fact, Buck’s gritty voice (not to mention his own compositional style) so features Waters on the title track that, were it not for the give-away reference to contemporary technology, it could stand inspection as a recently unearthed lost track. It’s all powerful stuff though and isn’t at all diminished by comparison.
Raw and committed throughout, the band turns in impressive all-round performances, while solidly powerful vocals and occasional solos drip with passion and integrity. Rockin’ Johnny Burgin excels on lead guitar and Montreal-based Bharath Rajukumar lives up to his own growing reputation as he blasts away on harp. ‘Call Phone Man’ might have been a long time coming but for many it will have been well worth the wait.