Buch and the Snake Stretcher's

Buch and the Snakestretchers / Roy Buchanan

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Buch and the Snake Stretcher's Review

by Lindsay Planer

This home-made and self-produced platter was issued by Roy Buchanan (guitar/vocals) after being rejected by Polydor. The artist decided to privately distribute the album on his own BIOYA label, whose initials stood for the message that Buchanan had for Polydor -- B(low) I(t) O(ut) Y(our) A(ss). For obvious contractual reasons, his name wasn't even intimated on the burlap bag (no joke) that housed first pressings of the 12" platter -- which was sold only at "underground" stores, head shops, and Buchanan's gigs. The music within the grooves proved to be equally as rustic and authentic as the packaging would suggest. The contents were in essence a professional audience tape documented circa 1971 during Buchanan's residence at The Crossroads nightclub in Bladensburg, MD. Years (if not decades at this point) as a consummate sideman is manifest in the spectrum of emotions and fluidity that Buchanan's fretwork achieves. His trademark precision and clean timbre pierces the otherwise murky recording as he pilots the Snakestretchers, who respectively consist of Ned Davis (drums), Dick Heintze (keyboards), Teddy Irwin (rhythm guitar), Chuck Tilley (vocals/rhythm guitar), Peter Van Allen (bass), and Marc Fisher (percussion). The six-piece backing combo are deceptively tight and likewise a perfect foil for both Buchanan's nimble fingers and acutely soulful leads. The opening cover of Don Gibson's "Sweet Dreams" alternately shimmers and sears behind the band's nimble waltz. The languid and drawn-out "Down by the River" is nothing short of a seminal example of the riveting command that formed around Buchanan's solos. Of even greater value are the originals "Since You've Been Gone" and the truncated "The Messiah Will Come Again," which is joined in progress.

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