Review: Buddy Guy – Born To Play Guitar


buddyguy-borntoplayguitarEric Clapton once called Buddy Guy “without a doubt the best guitar player alive”. Stevie Ray Vaughan once said “without Buddy Guy there would be no Stevie Ray Vaughan”. Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck and Mark Knopfler have all cited Buddy Guy as a personal favorite. Those are some kind of endorsements.

Buddy Guy was the one bluesman who bridged the gap between Rock and the blues. He brought an unprecedented speed and a slashing style to the blues guitar, both influencing and being influenced by the great Rock guitarists of the 1960s. And today at age 79, he’s still cranking it out.

Nobody expects anything new or innovative out of Buddy Guy’s 28th studio album, but that’s not what it’s all about. Born To Play Guitar is collection of blues ballads, stomps and shuffles, Chicago Blues, Mississippi Blues — a sampler pack of the blues — all showcasing his firmly-intact command of the Stratocaster. The songs are mostly originals, co-written by the album’s producer Tom Hambridge, who also delivers a beautiful crystal clear sound exposing the purity of Guy’s vocals and guitar playing.

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This is not to say there aren’t standout moments, because there are several of them. On “Wear You Out”, Guy shares vocals and lead solos with Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and I swear I saw smoke coming out of my ear buds after listening to that one. Another duet with Joss Stone takes on the old standard “(Baby) You Got What It Takes”, and features accents from a string section, turning their collaboration into a hilarious romp.

“Thick Like Mississippi Mud” brings a big horn section into play, which makes everything bigger, it’s a pretty exciting track. And the second-last track on the album, “Flesh & Bone (Dedicated To B.B. King)” is a duet with Van Morrison. It’s not really a blues number at all, but Van the Man’s voice is always welcome, and it’s a lovely little song.

You’re not a complete Rock fan if you don’t have any Buddy Guy records in your collection. This one may not be the very best showcase of his talents, but you can’t ever go wrong with “the best guitar player alive”. Talk to Clapton if you have a problem with that.

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