Originally released as a limited private pressing titled I Wanna Be Loved in 1982, this sought-after LP from Chicago blues belter Willie Buck is finally out there for all to hear. Although Buck was a friend of Muddy Waters, shared a stage in the late ’60s with Little Walter and has been a regular performer in Windy City blues joints for the past 50 years, the singer rarely made the trip to the studio. Aside from a few mid-’70s singles, The Life I Love is the bluesman’s entire recorded output — bolstered here by five rough-and-ready live numbers from the same period.
Joined by guitarists Louis and Dave Myers (bass), founding members of legendary Little Walter backing band the Aces, and a young John Primer, alongside the excellent Johnny “Big Moose” Walker on piano, Buck digs deep delivering great covers of Waters’ bawdy blues pleaser “Champagne and Reefer”, Jimmy Reed’s “Found My Baby Gone”, and a compelling version of Al Green’s “Sweet Sixteen”, where harmonica replaces the Memphis horns. Best of all, however, are the two originals that appear — the low-down blues of “How Can I Be Nice To You” and “There’s A Time”, where Buck’s emotive, smokey vocals seem to invest just that little bit of an extra something. This release is truly for anyone with a passing interest in no-frills Chicago blues.