The Godfather of contemporary blues, who took modern Chicago blues and embellished it with the bite, fire, and flash of rock & roll, Buddy Guy had not yet broken through in America (although he was much appreciated in Europe) when he recorded three albums for JSP Records between 1979 and 1981, including this, the middle one, which found Guy working with a solid session band of guitarists Doug Williams, William McDonald, and Phil Guy, saxophonist Maurice John Vaughn, keyboardists Gene Pickett and Eddie Lusk, bassists Nick Charles and J.W. Williams, and drummers Merle Perkins and Ray Allison. It's vintage Guy, and shows the raw but applied talent and showmanship that would eventually bring him the large American audience he so justly deserved in the 1990s. A 2008 re-release added three bonus tracks.
Encountering this material in a fresh setting, stripped of the familiar configurations of the original albums, we can reassess this important music in contemporary terms. Right off the bat, As Good As It Gets receives a demerit for omitting "Mary Had a Little Lamb," easily Guy's best known … waxing. Otherwise, the CD provides a reasonable overview of the mercurial guitarist's output. Best of all, the set uncovers three previously unreleased items from the '67 sessions. Buddy Guy is one of the most celebrated blues guitarists of his generation (arguably the most celebrated), possessing a sound and style that embodied the traditions of classic Chicago blues while also embracing the fire and flash of rock & roll.
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.
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."
On Buddy Guy's second Silvertone release, he continues the practice of guest appearances begun on Damn Right, I've Got the Blues. In this case, the notables include Paul Rodgers, Travis Tritt, and John Mayall. The finest combination comes when Bonnie Raitt joins Guy on John Hiatt's "Feels Like Rain." Raitt's gritty vocals and sweet slide guitar add a pleasing nuance to the bittersweet track, and it is ultimately the high point of the record. Certain critics and blues purists have derided Guy's search for mainstream success as evidenced by his penchant for guest appearances and non-traditional blues forms, but Guy sounds fantastic in these unconventional situations (witness his burning version of the Moody Blues' "I Go Crazy").
Last Time Around – Live At Legends is a fitting farewell to the late, great Junior Wells and his partnership, friendship and kinship with Buddy Guy that lasted decades. The album is a historic release in many ways. It reunites two blues legends who began their unique association in the 1950s. The album was recorded live in March 1993 at Buddy Guy's world-famous Chicago blues mecca Legends, and it's an acoustic document of many classic songs that made both Wells and Guy legends in their own right, such as "She's Alright" and "I've Been There," along with other classic blues standards such as "Hoochie Coochie Man" and "Key to the Highway," all delivered with a looseness and power that define both Guy and Wells. It also marks the last time the two ever played together.
Buddy Guy mostly indulges his histrionic side throughout this high-energy set, first issued in France and soon picked up for domestic consumption by Alligator. Stone Crazy! is a particularly attractive proposition for rock-oriented fans, who will no doubt dig Guy's non-stop incendiary, no-holds-barred guitar attack and informal arrangements. Purists may want to look elsewhere.
Whereas on 1993's Feels Like Rain Buddy Guy flirted with pop and R&B material, on Slippin' In, released one year later, he firmly reasserts his bluesness. From the very first track on, Guy lets his incomparable guitar loose. Throughout the album, he even experiments with Hendrix-esque effects on his guitar (perhaps at the prodding of producer/engineer Eddie Kramer), but the results never seem kitschy or gimmicky. Accompanied on half of the tracks by ex-Stevie Ray Vaughan associates Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton, the groove is deep and swinging. It makes you realize how much of Vaughan's signature sound lay in his rhythm section. There are only two original Guy compositions on Slippin' In, but since he has always been better as an interpreter than a writer, this is a non-complaint. Playing a superb foil to the leader is none other than Johnnie Johnson, whose solo on "7-11" simply takes over the track.