John’s Blues Picks August 2015 – Buddy Guy “Born to Play Guitar” (Silvertone/RCA/Sony)
Buddy Guy “Born to Play Guitar” (Silvertone/RCA/Sony) | www.buddyguy.net
The King is dead. Long live the King. Buddy Guy is now the last headlining blues star and with this new album he looks backwards and forwards. His trademark sound is a high energy, supercharged blues but this one, with a couple of guitars, piano (Kevin McKendree, in fine form), bass & drums (Hambridge) would be a traditional Chicago blues disc were it not for the fine new wrinkles that producer Tom Hambridge has added. There are also a couple of songs that take Buddy in new directions.
The title track opens and it is another fine example of Hambridge’s talent for turning biography into song. It’s just Buddy and his guitar to open and although other instruments join in, it stays relatively quiet and remarkably effective. As with the last album, there are guest stars here and ZZ Top‘s Billy Gibbons duets very well on vocal & guitar on “Wear You Out”. Kim Wilson guests on a couple, including a fine version of Little Walter‘s “Too Late”.
Joss Stone is also a treat on “Baby, You Got What It Takes”. The tribute to BB King is an excellent gospel-tinged song, “Flesh and Bone”, sung with Van Morrison and it’s a major highlight. Buddy Guy was at BB’s funeral – as we know Buddy takes his blues history seriously. Other, non-guest star, highlights include tough Chicago blues originals, “(I may not look it but I’m) Smarter Than I Was” and “Crazy World” which use the modern recording studio to full advantage but in the service of excellent songs. These are the ones that bode well for the future.
“Thick Like Mississippi Mud” is the best example here of his trademark supercharged sound and it’s also a video, available at www.buddyguy.net among other places. The album concludes with a heartfelt acoustic tribute, ” Come Back Muddy”. The official CD Release Party was at Buddy Guy’s Legends on July 30, his 79th birthday. A couple of discs ago BB sang in their duet that he hoped Buddy would stick around a little longer, on the strength of this stellar effort, he most certainly will.