Review: Buddy Guy – Rhythm & Blues

Posted on: Friday, Sep 13, 2013

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Buddy Guy – Rhythm & Blues

(RCA/Silvertone Records: 88883-75780-2)

As time inevitably passes us all by; Buddy, at the age of 77 has become one of the few blues legends living today that is still recording and performing with a vengeance. In the past he was merely a Chess session man who played with and for the greats of that label. Due in part, to the belief at that time, that his playing was viewed as vitriolic; veering too much towards rock.

Now, views have changed and it has been accepted that his rock tendencies of the past have not only stood him in good stead over the years but, ultimately helped to bridge the gap between traditional blues and the emerging rock infused blues of the sixties and over time with that firmly held belief in place came the acclaim and stature of his position in the present day.

Buddy has continued his collaborations with producer/drummer Tom Hambridge for this, his new double album, which also features a number of guest vocalists. Upon hearing the album for the first time I was immediately struck by the freshness and clarity of Buddy’s vocals which are more than suitably matched by his invigorated and at times inspirational guitar work.

The first album “Rhythm” has an infusion of soul that is evinced by the uplifting and certainly uncompromising vocals of Beth Hart on   “What Are You Gonna Do about Me?” Whereas the efforts of Kid Rock on the classic “Messin’ With The Kid,” seem somewhat, hurried and definitely, lack the required snarling, aggression.

“Best In Town,” and “What’s Up With That Woman,” meld together a tastefully ragged Muscle Shoals horn section with slashing guitar riffs, while, the sublime and soulfully shimmering vocals of Keith Urban, on “One Day Away,” lifts you far, far away. The enjoyably shuffling and grooving low spoken spooky guitar tinged “Whiskey Ghost,” wonderfully, warns us all once again about the evils of drink.

The second album “Blues”, speaks for itself, as the first two numbers crash out of the speakers with; “Meet Me In Chicago” and “Too Damn Bad” searing and slashing guitar runs are underpinned by an exquisitely loping, rolling and shuffling piano. Of “Evil Twin,” the inviting and welcoming shredding guitar breaks are sadly let down by the very pale vocal efforts of  Steven Tyler whereas the number  “I Could Die Happy,”  pleasantly Juxtaposes the simple sweet acoustic guitar of Dave Grissom with the jarring and withering electric guitar from Buddy.

The music builds and continues in this vein until the melancholic “I Came up Hard.” The final guest is Gary Clark Jr. who features  on  “The Blues Don’t Care,” together he and Buddy create a rollicking stomper; The album finishes on a high note with a seriously brass filled jumpin ’n’ jivin version of Willie Mabon’s “Poison Ivy,”

Buddy has produced an album that has the energy and fun filled enthusiasm that belies his age and long may he continue.

Recommended!

BRIAN HARMAN

www.buddyguy.net

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