Long John's second album for the Alligator imprint is even more potent than his first, Texas Border Legend. This time around, Hunter's sly, drawling vocals and stinging clusters of guitar are well to the fore, keeping the spotlight firmly in place on this Texas guitar legend. The record was cut in Austin and Abilene, Texas, and as such boasts Lone Star talent like Derek O'Brien, who plays rhythm guitar on this disc and solos on "I Don't Care" and "V-8 Ford." Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff blows saxophone on eight tunes and harmonica on "Locksmith Man." For his part, Hunter contributes 10 of the 14 tunes, co-writing with various members of his Walking Catfish Band or his co-producers, Tary Owens and John Foose. Long John's no-holds-barred approach literally screams Texas blues, letting you know you're listening to an originator, not an imitator.
For many years Long John Hunter played in clubs without much attention, but that time sweating it out in roadhouses has paid off. During that time, he developed a gutsy, forceful technique that was fully evident on his belated 1993 debut, Ride With Me. Although his second album, Border Town Legend, is a slicker, more accessible effort, Hunter hasn't lost any of his spicy, distinctive flavor. Working with a horn section, he still manages to make himself the most powerful element on the record – both his guitar playing and his heated vocals ensure that. Furthermore, Hunter's songwriting is growing stronger. Out of the nine songs he has written or co-written for the album, he has contributed some first-rate tunes that might not stretch beyond generic conventions, but still are mighty fine.
Hunter's third album for Alligator finds him in tip-top form, sounding like a man half his age (62 at the time) and brandishing a nasty guitar tone that supposedly died out with 1950s one-track mono recording. Everything on here is kept in a nice Texas roadhouse framework, with plenty of air moving behind Long John from a fine combo that includes Derek O'Brien on guitar and Sarah Brown on bass. For his end of it, Hunter sounds positively involved on tunes like "Irene," "Crazy Love," the rockin' "Bad Feet," the uptempo "Dream About the Devil," a fun duet with T.D. Bell on "West Texas Homecoming," and the title track. With his songwriting hand clearly defined on all ten tunes here, Hunter has made his most realized album to date, showing him still in sharp command of his prestigious powers.
Louisiana-born and Texas-toughened, Brooks (66 at the time of this recording), Hunter (68), and Walker (62) show what blues peers can do in what seem to be peaking years. There are three numbers where all three go full-tilt; the rest of the material varies in personnel, group, and solo emphasis. The distinctive, gutsy voice of Brooks, Walker's loping guitar lines with his slightly rough, seasoned voice, and the riveting presence of Walker on all counts, musically and vocally, are showcased to consistently satisfying levels. Of the 15 cuts, there are a handful of rockers and boogies, a few pure soul tunes and ballads, a jump blues, a Cajun calypso, and some straight blues – something for everyone. The hard-swinging "Street Walking Woman" and the slower shuffle "Feel Good Doin' Bad" are great musically, if lacking in message. Walker gets a back-to-back showcase on "I Can't Stand It No More/I Met the Blues in Person," and he tears it up. Brooks pleads and shouts on "This Should Go on Forever," while Hunter's highlights are the cautious "Alligators Around My Door" and the B.B. King cop on "Quit My Baby." Score some plus points for Kaz Kazanoff's sax and harp playing, and the horn charts are mighty fine throughout.