Living Proof is Buddy Guy's 26th studio album. After nearly fifty years in the music business, this was Buddy's highest charting album ever, peaking at #46 on the main Billboard album chart. The album loosely follows the progression of Buddy Guy's life. "Living Proof was designed partially as an aural autobiography from the legendary Buddy Guy, opening up with the stark summation “74 Years Young,” then running through songs that often address some aspect of a working musician's life."
Once again working with producer/songwriter Tom Hambridge – the bluesman's main collaborator since 2008's Skin Deep – Buddy Guy serves up a straight-ahead platter with Born to Play Guitar, his 28th studio album. Many of Guy's latter-day records loosely follow a theme, but Born to Play Guitar is pretty direct: just a collection of songs designed to showcase Buddy's oversized Stratocaster. Which isn't to say there's either a lack of variety or pro forma songwriting here. Hambridge cleverly colors Born to Play Guitar with a few bold, unexpected flourishes: the sweeps of sweet strings that accentuate "(Baby) You've Got What It Takes," a duet with Joss Stone that lightly recalls Etta James' Chess Records work; the big, blaring horns of "Thick Like Mississippi Mud" that moves that track out of the Delta and into an urban setting; the acoustic "Come Back Muddy" which performs that trick in reverse, pushing Chicago blues back down south.
Buddy Guy revitalized his career when he signed with Silvertone Records in the early '90s. His first album for the label, Damn Right, I've Got the Blues, was a smash success, earning critical acclaim, awards, and sales hand over fist. Prior to that record, he was a legend only among blues fans; afterward, he was a star. Although it was a bit too rock-oriented and slick for purists, Damn Right was a terrific album, setting the pace not only for Guy but for modern electric blues in the '90s. As the decade wore on, Guy continued to make albums for Silvertone, some of them a little complacent, others quite excellent…
Here's everything that fleet-fingered Buddy Guy waxed for Chess from 1960 to 1966, including numerous unissued-at-the-time masters, offering the most in-depth peek at his formative years imaginable. Stone Chicago blues classics ("Ten Years Ago," "My Time After Awhile," "Let Me Love You Baby," "Stone Crazy"), rockin' oddities ("American Bandstand," "$100 Bill," "Slop Around"), even a cut that features guitarist Lacy Gibson's vocal rather than Guy's ("My Love Is Real") – some 47 sizzling songs in all.
As part of MCA's Chess Records 50th Anniversary series, Buddy's Blues sweats Guy's multi-disc retrospective, The Complete Chess Studio Recordings down to a scintillating 15-track package and comes up with a bare-bones winner. There are loads of great guitar on classics like "First Time I Met the Blues," "Let Me Love You Baby," "Pretty Baby," "My Time After Awhile," "Stone Crazy," and Guy's voice is at its whiplash exuberant best. Unexpected bonuses pop up in the comp's kickoff track, a full-length version of "Worried Mind," issued here without the overdubbed applause and crowd noises that accompanied its original release on Folk Festival of the Blues (see Muddy Waters' entry). Also noteworthy is Junior Wells' appearance on chromatic harp on "Ten Years Ago," and Guy's stellar guitar behind Lacy Gibson's vocal on a Buddy Guy original, "My Love Is Real."
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.
Buddy Guy today remains one of the true international superstars of the Blues. One of his musically most glorious periods was the three classic albums he cut for JSP Records ("D.J. Play My Blues" "Breaking Out" and "Live at the Checkerboard Lounge") and the guesting on brother Phil Guy's wonderful debut album "Red Hot Blues". This compilation features some of the best cuts from that period and those albums. Buddy plays some hot guitar here and is stylistically moving forward from his sixties stuff to the ultra commercial things of today. Buddy always knew that the world would catch up eventually and he would become a superstar - the music here will tell you why.