They call him the Iron Man, and he’s earned the name. He’s earned it with his hours-long, intensely physical performances. He’s earned it with the steely attack of his guitar playing, pouring out brilliant, molten solos that build from one verse to the next, until you think he’ll wring the neck off of his Flying V. He’s earned it with the passion and depth of his singing. And he’s earned it offstage too, spending endless hours behind the wheel of his battered van (when he isn’t underneath it making repairs), driving from one end of the U.S. to the other, hauling his band and his trailer full of gear from one club or festival to the next.
This is Michael Burks’ third album for Alligator, and it’s been a thrill to watch him grow as an artist—from the juke joint-raised bluesman from tiny Camden, Arkansas playing clubs across the South into a giant of the blues, headlining festivals around the world. In those few years, Michael has honed his own huge guitar sound, bringing a level of rock intensity to the tasteful soulfulness of his playing, and finding his own singing voice, full of emotion and energy. For my money, if anyone in the blues can fill the void left by Freddie King and Luther Allison, it’s Michael Burks.
To capture all the fire of Michael’s live performances, we decided to cut this album with his seasoned road band rather than with the Memphis studio aces who supported him on his last two records. Wayne, Popcorn and Don have backed Michael on literally hundreds of gigs, and they know his every move. So we were able to cut these tunes almost completely live in the studio, with Michael lighting a fire under the band just like he does onstage.
This album captures Michael “Iron Man” Burks at full force, doing what he does so brilliantly a hundred nights a year—delivering raw, up-to-the minute, electrified and electrifying blues with a master’s touch.