By the time this long-player hit the street, Roy Buchanan (guitar/vocals) had already departed from his oft-acrimonious relationship with Polydor Records. To their credit, the label issued Live Stock (1975), which captured the artist in performance at Town Hall in New York City on November 27, 1974. This disc features the recently corralled combo of Bill Price (vocals), John Harrison (bass), Malcolm Lukens (keyboards), and Byrd Foster (drums/vocals). Interestingly, the instrumentalists would reconvene behind Buchanan for his next two studio albums, A Street Called Straight (1976) and Loading Zone (1977), as well as the thoroughly superior, import-only Live in Japan (2003). With the exception of the seminal Snakestretchers, this aggregate would stay with the guitarist for longer than any of his numerous other support bands. Practically by default, having returned Buchanan to the stage, the music instantly becomes more conducive to inspiration. The set list highlights both a sampling from earlier efforts, as well as a few covers that are personalized by Buchanan's inimitable stringed artistry. Whether by design or serendipity, each track focuses on his animated solos. Ranging from the driving boogie of Roy Milton's "Reelin' and Rockin" to the stinging fretwork that commences the Memphis soul of Al Green's slithery "I'm a Ram," Buchanan is undeniably at the peak of his abilities. The spirited reading of "Further on up the Road" is particularly worthwhile, as his leads alternately from a rapid-fire slide action to emphatic wails that punctuate the melody with equal measures of deadly accuracy and limber precision. Live Stock is a primary recommendation for all dimensions of blues guitar lovers and those interested in experiencing the craftsmanship of the man once hailed as "The Greatest Unknown Guitarist In The World." Hardcore collectors and the like should also be aware of the essential nine-plus minute rendering of Neil Young's "Down by the River," which was recorded at this show, yet remained unissued until its inclusion on Sweet Dreams: The Anthology (1992) double-disc set. Equally as impressive, and as highly recommended, is the posthumously released archival American Axe: Live in 1974 (2003), as well as the previously mentioned Live in Japan (2003) – both of which have the same musicians and similarly exceptional results.
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