The Blues Is Alive And Well
Buddy Guy is undoubtedly the reigning “King of The Blues”. He began his career performing in 1953 in Baton Rouge, La. By 1957 he had relocated to Chicago. In 1965 and 1966 Guy recorded sessions with Junior Wells for both Delmark and Vanguard Records. Guy’s solo debut was 1967’s “Left My Blues in San Francisco” on Chess Records. In 1972 he released “Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Play The Blues”, co-produced by Eric Clapton, on Atlantic Records; that album is still regarded as one of the finest electric blues albums ever recorded. Guy holds seven Grammy awards including one for 2010’s “Living Proof”, produced by Tom Hambridge; and a 2015 Lifetime Achievement Grammy. Guy also holds thirty-seven Blues Music Awards more than any other artist. He also received Kennedy Center Honors and is an inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On September 12th the eighty-one year old Guy will receive an Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as an instrumentalist.
This is Guy’s seventieth recording overall and fifth produced by Hambridge, who also authored or co-authored thirteen of the albums fifteen tracks. Guy states “he’s like some of the older guys I used to play with”. “When you play with a band ten or twelve years, they almost know what you’re gonna do. He’s the type of guy who feels what I’m gonna do. Even in my early Chess Records days, you had Willie Dixon and several other guys affiliated with those hit records, and this kid just has that feel too. He brought the songs in, and hopefully we did a good job.”
“A Few Good Years”, which of course Guy still hopes to have, features the core band of Guy, Fender Buddy Guy Stratocaster and vocals; Hambridge, drums; Rob McNelley, rhythm guitar; Kevin McKendree, Hammond B-3; and Willie Weeks, bass.
“Cognac” co-written by Guy with Hambridge and Richard Fleming includes guest guitarists Keith Richards and Jeff Beck while McKendree switches to piano.
The title track, co-written by Hambridge and Gary Nicholson, also features The Muscle Shoals horns including Charlie Rose, trombone and arrangement; Steve Herrman, trumpet; Doug Moffet, tenor sax; and Jim Hoke, baritone sax. The Muscle Shoals Horns play again on both “Old Fashioned” and “End Of The Line”.
Brit James Bay plays guitar and shares the vocal with Guy on “Blues No More” while Guy switches to a Gibson ES-335. On “Whiskey For Sale” Guy is joined by background singers Regina and Ann McCrary and Rachel Hambridge.
“You Did The Crime” features Mick Jagger on harmonica and sharing the vocal. “Nine Below Zero” was written and recorded by Sonny Boy Williamson II and also recorded by Muddy Waters in 1971. The closer is “Milking Muther For Ya” written by Guy and Red Nelson and performed as a solo.
Guy doesn’t forget “I went to sleep yesterday and woke up and all the great blues players are no longer with us. Muddy, Wolf, B.B. , they’re all gone. Before they passed away, when they were in their prime, we used to have a drink and a laugh and talk about how when one of us is gone, the others have to keep it going. I’m trying to do something to keep this music that I love so well alive”. Guy is doing just what was intended on “The Blues Is Alive and Well.
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