Artist: Buddy Guy
Album: The Blues Don't Lie
Eight time Grammy Award Winner Buddy Guy is obviously a living legend. His influence in blues and rock music is far reaching. Names like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Keith Richards all cite him as a major influence. His career began as a sideman at Chess Records in the late 50's working with Muddy Waters and began to blossom when he forged a partnership with harp legend Junior Wells.
I think the only thing more electric than his guitar playing are his vocals. I vividly remember the first time I heard his voice come roaring out of my speakers. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was most definitely more than I thought it would be as he barked out "You're Damn Right I Got The Blues". From there I would go backwards into his discography, finding one of my favorite cuts, Keep It To Myself from his Left My Blues In San Francisco album. He is truly a blues master in every way, whether he is laying back or charging forward at full speed.
It is difficult to pick favorites from this set as it is all done at the level we have come to expect from Buddy Guy and his band. One track that stands out for me is Well Enough Alone. It reminds me of Clapton's version of Crossroads in terms of the main riff. It's gritty and quite aggressive hinging on recklessness, which is one of the things that I have liked most about his music over the years.
My favorite track is What's Wrong With That. It is a classic funky 12 Bar Blues with special guest Bobby Rush. It seems like whatever Bobby touches somehow gets funkier than the things he doesn't. They're a pair of seasoned pros laying into some thick blues. There are few artists that can bring a blues party to a crescendo in the way these two men do independent of one another. Putting them together is a magical combo of Bobby's fun approach to the blues mixed with Buddy's aggressive take on the genre. A grand slam of a track!
Some other standouts are Symptoms of Love featuring Elvis Costello, Back Door Scratchin' and the acoustic closer and classic King Bee. I also enjoyed the mid tempo swing blues Last Call with its smooth as glass walking bass line and classic Chicago feel.
This latest set from Buddy is all that one would expect from him. It has all the usual ingredients of a solid blues record. His music has aged very well with him. He has mellowed quite a bit over the years, delivering a more subdued but inspired performance. It is a diverse set of tracks that never leaves the blues but stretches a bit here and there. Even when Buddy stretches it still feels just like him... a man of the blues!