The U.K. based Beat Goes On label continues their series of Roy Buchanan two-fers. This one finds the artist at a distinct professional crossroads. After his ultimately discordant relationship with Polydor came to an end, the label finally showed the good sense to issue Live Stock (1975) -- which was primarily documented at Town Hall in New York City on November 27, 1974. The notable exception being the six-plus minute take of "I'm Evil" -- recorded the following March at the Amazing Grace club in Evanston, IN. Supporting Buchanan's consummate strings during the Town Hall appearance are Billy Price (vocals), John Harrison (bass), Malcolm Lukens (keyboards), and Byrd Foster (drums/vocals). There are several outstanding entries scattered throughout Live Stock. With the focus properly placed on Buchanan's fluid fretwork, the update of Al Green's greasy "I'm a Ram," as well as the deadly accuracy with which he lays line upon line of incendiary guitar during "Further on Up the Road" are nothing short of exemplary examples of his nimble mastery in the context of a live performance. A Street Called Straight (1976) marked the start of a three-album deal for Buchanan on Atlantic Records where he retained the services of Harrison (bass), Lukens (keyboards), and Foster (drums/vocals). The move meant that Buchanan and company also gained the skills of label veteran Arif Mardin, who brought along session all-stars Andy Newmark (drums), Will Lee (bass), Billy Cobham (percussion), the Brecker Brothers' horn section, and vocals from former Rascals' member Eddie Brigati. The direction that Mardin takes the ensemble certainly works to the advantage of the guitarist, who likewise provided nine of the long player's 11 cuts. Again, at the center of each number is Buchanan's unmatched sonic imprint. From the opening wail of "Running Out" through to the funkified "Keep What You Got" or the organic remake of Jimi Hendrix's "If Six Was Nine," any or all of these could be considered essential listening. As is the new reading of the Buchanan staple "The Messiah Will Come Again" -- a tune that dates all the way back to his earliest known originals, when he was the leader of Buck & the Snake Stretchers (1971).
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer