The Definitive Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy

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The Definitive Buddy Guy Review

by Michael G. Nastos

To call this collection of tunes from blues legend Buddy Guy definitive is not a stretch by any means, as it is a cohesive, thoughtful, chronological collection that accurately represents all of his changes and phases through six decades. Overall, it is a mellow compilation that showcases many of Guy's laid-back songs, several with longtime partner Junior Wells. It's sprinkled with the many all-star bluesmen he has collaborated with over the years, and is tastefully programmed to offer what is essentially cream of the crop blues from one of its enduring legends. Your hear music issued on singles, LPs and CDs recorded from 1958 through 2004 via various recordings done for the Artistic, Chess, Delmark, Vanguard, Blue Thumb, Atco, Evidence, Alligator, JSP, Blind Pig, and Silvertone labels. It really is a comprehensive overview of Guy's best known songs, and gives fans or neophytes an accurate big picture of why Buddy Guy remains one of the most influential artists in American popular music. The CD starts in slow grind mode with classics like "Sit & Cry" in the style of Howlin' Wolf with all-stars Otis Rush and Willie Dixon, the most well-known "First Time I Met the Blues" with pianist Little Brother Montgomery; "Ten Years Ago" in his first teaming with Wells from 1960; the downhearted "When My Left Eye Jumps" with four horns and Lafayette Leake on the organ; and the all-time great showtime tune with Wells' "Hoodoo Man Blues" from the Delmark LP of the same name from 1966 that has become synonymous with electric Chicago. Guy's distinctive solo guitar style is front and center on the intro of "A Man & the Blues" alongside the immortal pianist Otis Spann, while the sole track from Buddy & the Juniors, "Five Long Years," is a toned-down acoustic number with Wells and pianist Junior Mance from that rare Blue Thumb recording. A funky R&B number "A Man of Many Words," from Atco Records in 1972 features, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, saxophonist A.C. Reed and Wells, while Guitar Slim's standard, "The Things I Used to Do," again with Wells live at Montrueux, Switzerland, languishes over its time. Brother Phil Guy joins Buddy in a two-guitar tandem for Champion Jack Dupree's eight-minute, low-key slow jam "When I Left Home" and the rock & roll "Dust My Broom" styled "She Suits Me to a T." Another two live tracks, the upbeat shuffle of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Checkin' on My Baby" and Dixon's "Let Me Love You Baby" featuring Pinetop Perkins, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts, and G.E. Smith's nine-piece Saturday Night Live Band, respectively. The final selection, "Baby Please Don't Leave Me," with Jimbo Mathus is a heavy contemporary stomper that shows a new attitude toward the blues that steers away from authenticity, but more toward a youth oriented audience. This CD is recommended without reservation, a great single CD overview of Buddy Guy's soul and spirit as a true pioneer of the blues.

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