The recording and production on this, Roy Buchanan's first record for Polydor, is delightfully bare, sparse in ornamentation, and full of bum notes and aborted ideas that would be deleted on most commercial releases. It is a loose, highly improvised affair that amply demonstrates why the leader is one of the underappreciated giants of rootsy guitar. Straddling country, blues, and traditional rock & roll, Buchanan's playing is fiery and unpremeditated. His tone is delightfully raw and piercing, his solo ideas impetuous and uncluttered. On the instrumental tracks, such as his famous reading of "Sweet Dreams" or Buchanan's own "The Messiah Will Come Again," one can see why he was such an influence on Jeff Beck, another master of the instrument known for his genre-blending and ragged spontaneity. There is a slight Michael Bloomfield influence felt in Buchanan's blues playing, most evident in the first chorus of "John's Blues" and the quasi-Eastern ornamentations on "Pete's Blue." He plays with pitch, placing notes in unexpected places, constantly keeping the listener guessing. The country tracks, such as "I am a Lonesome Fugitive" and Hank Williams' "Hey, Good Lookin'," benefit greatly from Chuck Tilley's understated vocals. Despite Tilley's presence, the main focus on this record is Buchanan's wailing guitar, which punctuating the vocals with bluesy cries and country moans. The strongest track on Roy Buchanan is "The Messiah Will Come Again." This song opens with Buchanan's mumbled spoken word intro over quiet organ and then yields to spine-tingling, sorrow-laden Telecaster that cries and screams in existential torment before giving way in turn to percussive flurries that make less sense as melodic improvisation than as cries of passion. This is raw guitar playing and music making, not for the faint of heart. Fans of blues or country guitar, or those just curious why Jeff Beck would dedicate "'Cause We've Ended As Lovers" from Blow By Blow to Buchanan, would do themselves a favor by picking up this album.
AllMusic Review by Daniel Gioffre