This single CD contains Roy Buchanan's major-label debut LP Roy Buchanan (1972) and the follow-up, Second Album (1973). After the record company rejected a request from the artist to release a live set, Buchanan surreptiously issued the platter on his own under the guise of Buck & the Snake Stretchers (1971). Polydor essentially took the same core personnel, removed them from their more familiar concert club environs and put them into the comparatively sterile recording studio to cut much of the same material. Buchanan is supported by the aforementioned Snake Stretchers: Ned Davis (drums), Dick Heintze (keyboards), Teddy Irwin (rhythm guitar), Chuck Tilley (vocals/rhythm guitar), and Peter van Allen (bass). After honing the tunes night after night, there is little wonder when hearing the tight arrangements or the comfortable communication between Buchanan and company. Fittingly, the opening cover of Don Gibson's "Sweet Dreams" establishes both the performers' unfettered rapport, as well as the deft precision and unbridled emotion evident in Buchanan's playing. Stylistically, the tracks range from the rural-flavored "I Am a Lonesome Fugitive" or the Creole-infused "Cajun" to the hauntingly noir solos on "Messiah Will Come Again." Arguably, the highlights are the instrumentals "Pete's Blues" and, to a greater extent, the simply stunning epic "John's Blues." The latter may be the guitarist's greatest and most illustrative studio side. Less than six months and a few minor personnel changes later, Second Album was documented to similar results. The emphasis is once again on a variety of approaches to traditionals and originals alike. Erskine Hawkins' "After Hours" is given a formidable workout, while Buchanan's own "Five String Blues" is a seminal example of the artistry that he brings to his craft, as the guitar alternately cries and rejoices at his touch. "I Won't Tell You No Lie" is a funkier number, recalling a mid-tempo interpretation of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine." From here, the Snake Stretchers disbanded as new producers incorporated their own musicians and vocalists. Sadly, few (if any) of Buchanan's subsequent efforts would reveal the thoroughly solid ensemble work that Roy Buchanan and Second Album so flawlessly demonstrate.
Second Album Review
by Lindsay Planer