Review: Buddy Guy – Born To Play Guitar

Posted on: Sunday, Sep 6, 2015

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Buddy Guy – Born to Play Guitar

(Silvertone / RCA Records)

Born on 13th July in 1936 on a plantation in Lettsworth, Louisiana, Buddy’s childhood in a sharecropper’s family was by no means easy and even at the early age of seven he sought solace in music, in fact, he fashioned his first guitar around this time out of pieces of wood and his mothers hairpins. During the early fifties he began his playing career in Baton Rouge.

He moved to Chicago in 1958 after being inspired by Muddy Waters. Shortly after his arrival in Chicago he signed to the legendary Chess label but, during his nine years with the label they consistently refused to record his particular style of the blues, instead his work for the label consisted of being a session guitarist for such artists as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Sonny ‘Boy’ Williamson and Koko Taylor to name but a few.

Although, he was emphatically ignored by his label, his music was, over time seeping out to new ears in the shape and form of Led Zeppelin, Jack Bruce, Stephen Stills, Buddy Miles, Roland Kirk and Jon Hiseman all of whom he appeared with at the Staines Supershow in England in 1969, also by now The Rolling Stones were being influenced by Buddy and his long time friend and harpist Junior Wells.

It was this influential group of musicians and rock guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page that have funnelled Buddy’s livewire take on the blues through to today and at the grand age of 79, Buddy has sadly become one of the last living links with all those greats. His latest foray into the world of seriously rocking blues lacks none of the sting and zing of his fiery Stratocaster playing and with the continued partnership of Tom Hambridge it simply goes on and on.

Of the 14 numbers here Buddy contributes his writing talents on five of them with Tom. The starting groove kicks in with “ Born to Play the Guitar”,  a slow meandering vocal, piano and guitar explaining just why Buddy has the blues perennially coursing through his veins and he ain’t gonna stop playing  for no one. “Wear You Out”, has Billy Gibbons adding his trusty foundation building fuzz to Buddy’s soaring. Twisting, waspish hit and running guitar work, the well matched growling vocal interplay happily competes with a crashing and thumping percussion.

A sweet whining slide is all pervading on the slow burner “Back-up Mama”, a story of a man that has two women on the go, the tumbling piano, percussion and ringing guitar lazily and happily urges you on.  Kim Wilson features on two numbers, Little Walter’s “Too Late”, and “Kiss Me Quick”-  on the first Kim’s harp playing adds a lovely, crisp swampy feel to this foot tapping timeless classic. On the second, which is a splendid Texas walker is given legs by Kim who infuses sharpness and swagger to the stride while the jagged guitar and rolling piano follow in line.

“Crying Out of One Eye”, has an absorbing and enveloping mixture of heavy bass percussion cradled with succulent soaring Memphis horns, the guitar work seamlessly follows and compliments an already tingling feeling. On a more serious note Van Morrison joins Buddy on the B.B. King tribute “Flesh And Bone”, a sombre and melancholy guitar and slide slow burner reflecting upon a person’s impact on others while in this world, their life, their zest, compassion, passion and humanity. Lastly on “Come Back Muddy”, there is a simple piano and guitar led heartfelt plea to Muddy Waters to return, to bring back the good times, the good life and the good, good music.

Highly Recommended!

BRIAN HARMAN

www.buddyguy.net

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