Junior Wells

It's My Life, Baby!

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Although It's My Life, Baby! was decent mid-'60s electric Chicago blues, coming so soon after Junior Wells' 1965 classic Hoodoo Man Blues -- one of the greatest blues LPs ever -- it was something of a disappointment. Wells' chief right-hand man for Hoodoo Man Blues, guitarist Buddy Guy, was still on board for these recordings, but the band arrangements weren't quite as tight. More crucially, the material wasn't as good or innovative, giving far more weight to slow blues with standard progressions, and relatively little attention to the funk-soul-Latin influences that had supplied several of Hoodoo Man Blues' finest moments. Finally, the decision to mix studio recordings with live tracks (recorded at Pepper's Lounge in Chicago) could be questioned, as it lent the record an inconsistency, particularly as different bands were used live and in the studio. Taken on its own terms, however, it's certainly respectable, at times revving up the energy for an infectious bounce. "Country Girl," for instance, stands in peppy contrast to the relatively sleepy slow tunes; "Shake It Baby" revives some of the soul feeling of the Hoodoo Man Blues sessions; and "(I Got A) Stomach Ache" is funky in a silly but fun way.

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