While the sound quality leaves something to be desired, fans of electric Chicago blues should hear Magic Sam live. Recorded at two separate locations, the Alex Club in Chicago in 1963 and 1964 and the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival in 1969, this disc captures the raw energy not only of the musicians, but the crowds' tremendous response to them. Sam is in his natural environment at the Alex Club with an interchanging quintet, including electric pianist Tyrone Carter and tenor saxophonists Eddie Shaw and A.C. Reed, playing in front of a rowdy audience, ready to party. The Ann Arbor performance, on the other hand, finds him playing with a stripped down trio at an outdoor festival to a mainly white hippie crowd; performer and audience are somewhat unfamiliar with each other. This doesn't stop Sam's trio from blazing through their set and once again igniting the crowd. It should be noted that the energy level of the audience and band was exceptionally tense after Sam arrived late to the festival site without a drummer. Sam Lay was called upon at the last minute to fill the drum seat, as Charlie Musselwhite's band filled in for them while they set up. Ignore the rotten sound quality, this is raw blues power and provides a priceless document of Sam Maghett's vital showmanship.
AllMusic Review by Al Campbell