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Music Review: Buddy Guy Bring ‘Em In

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With Bring ‘Em In, Hall of Famer Buddy Guy is still getting it done.

Every album Buddy Guy has released for Silvertone records (beginning with Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues has had some sort of angle, shtick, or concept. Guy has managed to record some memorable music despite these contrivances. This begs the question: What might Guy’s albums sound like if people quit trying to reinvent him and if he quit allowing them to do it?

What is the concept behind this album? You might call it Supernatural II- they even invited Carlos Santana. Guy’s guest stars lack the pop/alternative crossover appeal those of those on Santana’s mega-selling disc and this is not the first time Guy has had luminary guests lend a helping hand on a record. One still has to wonder whether or not there was a Supernatural effect on Bring ‘em In.

WHAT WORKS

The best tracks on this album are more often than not the songs without any guests. Unfortunately that only leaves half the album.

It is not that the guests on the album are no good. It is not even just that Buddy Guy is an amazing artist and a blues icon (and finally a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that can more than hold a listener’s attention (he can). It is that many of the artists paired with Guy seem lost when trying to meld their talents with his. This is never more obvious than when Guy has the entire song to himself. The first four songs on Bring ‘em In are probably the highpoints of the entire album.

The one exception to the guest star problem is Keith Richards. Richards, as a rhythm player, melts into the background on “The Price You Gotta Pay” and is neither essential nor distracting in his cameo. “The Price You Gotta Pay” is actually one of the standout tracks on the disc. The song was written by contemporary bluesman Keb’ Mo’ (who cameos on guitar on “Ain’t No Sunshine”). The song details a man’s struggles with fidelity. Plenty of songs have been written on the subject but all too often they are boorish or unapologetic. The lyrics to “The Price You Gotta Pay” are far more regret filled and Guy’s vocal lends them dignity. It is something to behold.

Guy’s vocal performance on “Now You’re Gone,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and “What Kind of Woman is This” make his previous effort, Blues Singer, sound every bit as lazy as some critics said it was upon its release. Guy’s falsetto packs much more wallop in these songs than it did at any point on Blues Singer. His vocals throughout the album really are terrific alternating from his characteristic frenzied vocals to eased, relaxed quips.

  1. Now You’re Gone
  2. Ninety Nine and One Half
  3. What Kind of Woman Is This (Guy’s sole writing credit)
  4. Somebody’s Sleeping in My Bed

WHAT DIDN’T

Steve Jordan handles the producer’s duty as well as the drumming on the album. Jordan worked on Keith Richards’ solo albums as well as Springsteen’s last disc. He was worked and played with some of the biggest names in music. His credentials as a rock producer are impressive, varied, and undeniable.

His work at the helm of a blues record is less impressive. The sound on Bring ‘Em In is not unbearably slick but there it sometimes comes close. They did not have ProTools when Guy recorded A Man and the Blues or when Guy sat second chair on Muddy Waters’ Folk Singer album. Technology that allows us to hear Buddy play and sing is a good thing. Technology that removes the blood and guts that epitomize blues (and Buddy Guy) is not. The slickness and polish can sometimes make Guy sound older than he is. If there was a chance anything on Bring ‘em In could cross over as a hit single the slickness might be easier to forgive. There is no chance of that here (which is not an indictment of this record as much as it is the state of radio) so glossing over the rough edges hurts the record without improving its chances for commercial success.

Robert Randolph and Carlos Santana are both incredible guitarists. So is Buddy Guy. We don’t need either of them on this album because Guy can still raise the hair on your neck with one note from his guitar. This was also a problem on Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues. Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Mark Knopfler have achieved legendary status and are first-rate guitarists but none are better than the man with whom they are collaborating. “I Put a Spell on You” (the Santana collaboration) is far from terrible and Randolph’s work is not the reason “Lay Lady Lay” does not work on Bring ‘em In.

John Mayer sounds completely out of place on “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember.” The 50 years separating Guy and Mayer are never more obvious than when Mayer takes the microphone- he sounds like he is 12-years old. Mayer’s vocals usually have an air of earnestness to them. His vocal on “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember” is bland and is made blander by the more emotive Guy.

Tracy Chapman loans her voice to “Ain’t No Sunshine.” There is no vocal interaction between Chapman and Guy until the last 40 seconds of the song. Chapman is a capable vocalist. She sounds more at home on the song than one might expect but that is because the arrangement is more Adult Contemporary than blues. The surprise here might be that Guy’s vocal is still expressive and compelling.

Anthony Hamilton and the background singers get too much time on center stage during “Lay, Lady Lay.” Maybe that explains Guy’s speak-singing of the bridge. Either way, Guy sounds like the guest star on this track rather than the other way around.

FINAL ANALYSIS

There are more than enough great moments to make this enjoyable and necessary listening. The best moments on this disc are enough to quiet those who think their musicians should retire before they reach 40. The lesser moments and mistakes are still more interesting than much of what passes for contemporary rock (and blues) music. The moments in between prove that Buddy Guy on regular day outshines many artists at their best.

Bring ‘em In should be celebrated because very few legends are still compelling in their later years. The spirit and the passion and the prowess that is Buddy Guy still rise above the occasional contrivance and the passage of time. Bring ‘em In might not move the legend forward but it does not set him back, either. There are a lot of ‘classic’ performers out there who are wishing for the same.

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About Josh Hathaway

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    I’m picking up this album this week. I love Buddy Guy! I’ve heard him live a couple of times in the last year, and I am always amazed by the man’s presence. I hope they didn’t strip out *too* much of that for the album!

  • http://bonamassablog.us Joanie

    I’ve missed him the last two times he was in San Diego, but I won’t make that mistake again. Same with B.B. King.

    As for Mayer’s appearance on the album, sure, the guy can play the blues, but he doesn’t have the soul to pull it off convincingly. I’ve been watching and listening to a lot of damn fine blues artists, and some mediocre blues artists…Mayer should at least aspire to meet the standards of the mediocre bunch.

    Grrr…I hate these albums that are little more than novelty pairings. Gimme the real thing or don’t even bother trying.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Rest easy, Phillip. The presence is still there. It sometimes gets pushed aside by silly guests and it doesn’t always have the potency of his ‘classic’ material but it is still there.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Here’s the funny thing: I like John Mayer. Not in the same way, but it’s nice to hear a young pop star exploring the blues, and despite what some of you guys think he’s missing, the boy can play.

    John Mayer and Buddy Guy have been touring together, and I think they work extremely well together. One time I saw them when Mayer was playing while Buddy sang, and one time the other way around, so I’m not quite sure what to expect with the mixture of voices, though. :-)

    I’m definitely getting the album. Man, my October budget is stretching thinner by the day!

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Phillip, you might need to get a computer for that budgeting.

    Mayer can play – he’s not my favorite player but he can play. I think his vocals are light in the cakes. He doesn’t have the gravitas to make you believe it when he sings them.

    I think it is cute when someone with no business working in a particular genre wants to explore it – but it usually blows up in their face more often than it works. “Dreams to Remember” is poor, man.

  • Tony

    You’re right, this album is definitely worth listening to. On “Bring Em In,” Buddy Guy’s vocal range, guitar playing, passion, emotion and imagination are amazing. All things being equal, this album should be among the top 20 Billboard albums today, easily. I’d like to see how many best selling artists can perform live – without the special effects, big show and back up – as well as Buddy Guy can perform live. He can still hold his own against most of today’s best guitarists and singers when he wants to. It’s ridiculous that such a highly talented artist – acclaimed by the top artists – can’t achieve far more success, fame and radio play in this music industry.

    I like the nice mix of songs and musical styles such as blues, R&B, soul and even psychedelic rock, although I’d have preferred more original Buddy Guy songs. While I would have preferred no guest artists, I don’t have a problem with most of those songs. Besides, it shows Buddy Guy’s versatility in being able to adapt to other artists as well as to the mood of the song. On the other hand, it’s much harder for other artists to adapt to Guy’s unusual style. For example, “I Put a Spell On You” shows how well Buddy Guy can adapt to a relatively Santana-ized song, yet leave his distinctive mark all over it. (As former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman noted in his book, Buddy Guy is capable of imitating almost any guitarist if he wants to.) If the tables were reversed, could Santana have been able to adapt and fit in a crazy Buddy Guy song? Besides, the guitar duel was fun. As for John Mayer, I know a couple of women who like “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember.” As for Steve Jordan, while his production lacked a little in some areas, he must have done something right to draw out the singing and guitar work from Guy (as well as some great tracks) in a studio setting. In his production, Jordan just needs to loosen up and take a bolder approach in the next album; his experience here will help him better produce a special artist like Guy next time around (I’m speculating that it’s his unique style and studio nervousness that make Guy a difficult artists to produce). Steve Jordan’s more than capable of doing it.

    Personally, I don’t care if Buddy Guy wants to explore and experiment with different styles and sounds beyond the “Chicago blues” we keep demanding from him. If he wants to do a jazz, bluegrass or rap album, let him as long as the guitar and singing are great. I think the multi-gifted Guy’s association to Chicago blues, while it gave him his break, has also been a shackle on his career. He should have dumped Chess, and done what Hendrix did — move to England in the 1960s to get his break.

    Finally, here’s a film clip of Buddy Guy performing live at the Texas club Antones: http://www.antones-homeoftheblues.com/galleryLow.html

  • Tony

    P.S. you can hear song samplers at buddyguy.com (4 full tracks) and at buddyguy.net (4 sampler clips — some songs are different from above).

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Tony, thanks for checking in and for checking out the review. I do like the album a lot.

    I am OK with Buddy trying on some different styles but blues is what he does best and anyone who picks up a Buddy Guy album will want to hear that. He saw the potential for fusing rock and blues before just about anyone (as I mentioned in a piece I wrote when Guy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But the blues is what Guy does best and it is what his fans want and I think it is where he will always return. He is one of the very last of his generation of the great bluesmen. It is great to hear him spread his wings but he is one of the last who really lived the blues. There may never be another generation with that kind of authenticity. When I listen to “A Man and the Blues” or something from his Chess era that comes screaming through the speakers. You could even hear it on “Sweet Tea.” It’s in him and he is one of the true giants of the genre.

    The Santana duet has grown on me more than I thought it would. I never disliked it but now I like it more than I did. I still don’t like the Mayer duet.

    I think Jordan’s production removed the blood and guts from the album. On some songs that is very effective and it sounds great. But again, blues is what Buddy does best and blues should not be sanitized.

    I am glad you are liking the album – it’s a good one. Let me ask you this… do you think there was too much distortion on Guy’s guitar in some spots? I kind of did.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    And then I just checked and saw that you had extensive comments on piece about Guy at the rock and roll HoF – you know your Buddy Guy history.

    I think I like “Bring ‘em In” better than “Blues Singer.” Not sure I would rate it above “Sweet Tea” (although I had issues with production on that one, too).

    I just wish some producer would have the good sense to get out of Buddy’s way and just let him play and sing.

  • http://www.thebmrant.com Matt

    This has been syndicated to Advance.net, a place affiliated with about 10 newspapers around the country.

    Also please let your contact know, if you had one, that this article is published at another place.

    Thank you.
    Matt Freelove

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Thanks, Matt!

  • Tony

    DJRadiohead, all blues and blues rock fans thank you for rationalizing so well the importance of Buddy Guy’s induction into the Rock Hall of Fame, given the ignorant press was lukewarm on his induction.

    I agree with your suggestion on the producer getting out of Buddy Guy’s way, and just let him play and sing. Who do you think should produce Buddy Guy? And who should be part of the ultimate backing band to bring out Buddy Guy in the studio?

    On Steve Jordan’s production, you’re very right – though his sound and engineering is still good enough, it didn’t always work as well as it could and should have. (Was the production held back by budget, schedule or poor production? Or was Steve Jordan stuck on re-creating what he thought Guy was supposed to be in the past. Or was Jordan trying to sell Guy to a wider audience given the constraints of the music they had to work with?)

    For example, the average listener would probably be put off by the guitar duel on the Santana duet (when all hell breaks loose after the first two solos). Also, Buddy’s sound (distortion + rawness + unusual complexity) is not as easy to appreciate and follow as Santana’s cleaner sound.

    I don’t think that there was too much distortion from Buddy’s playing. I think the problem was more the way Guy’s overdrive, distortion and wah were engineered or mixed made it too muddy and messy sounding. (Imagine how Hendrix Experience and Led Zeppelin might have sounded if Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page did not get involved in the production and lead their engineers). If Buddy played live, the same distortion would likely sound great. There are tracks on Buddy Guy bootlegs (see below) which have heavier distortion and cooler wah that are on another level altogether. Straight off the soundboard – without being messed up by producers and recording engineers. Maybe the engineers (with the possible exception of Eddie Kramer) weren’t right for Buddy’s style and emotion. Imagine what the psychedelic blues rock track “Cut You Loose” might have sounded with Eddie Kramer’s help in his hey day.

    Still, don’t get me wrong. While the sound could have been even better, it’s still good enough that people will enjoy the outstanding guitarwork. If Buddy Guy was a lesser guitarist, the production quality probably wouldn’t be an issue.

    In any case, as you similarly pointed out, all of Buddy’s Silvertone albums have unnecessary production interference, some more than others (yes, Sweet Tea is one; a few, not all, of Eddie Kramer produced tracks are quite good though). It’s even more apparent when you compare it with Buddy Guy’s live performance recordings. I don’t mean the official live albums such as the Real Deal. I mean his soundboard bootlegs such as the official piratebootlegs.com series of Legends performances in January 2004 or an unofficial bootleg of his blistering guitar duel with Stevie Ray Vaughan in July 1989. Several bootleg tracks (such as Voodoo Child, The Sky Is Crying, I’m Going Down To Louisiana, etc.) could be put on an album without much sound engineering, and would be a better than any of his official albums. That’s how good Buddy Guy is live. To date, no producer has been able to fully capture what Guy can do.

    Yeah, Buddy will likely infuse blues into whatever style he does. And blues is what he is best known for and what fans want (including me). But because Guy is so versatile and has 50 years of playing history, fans have differing expectations of even the “blues” they want from him. With the few years of quality playing the almost 70-year old Guy has left, he has earned the right to explore a bit to complete whatever he feels he needs to do. But it would be nice to see a new live album.

    Buddy Guy interview on the Bring Em In album:
    http://illinoisentertainer.com/2005/09/30/buddy-guy/

    P.S. Btw, in the Les Paul and Friends album, Buddy Guy guested in a triplet with Keith Richards and Rick Derringer for a fun version of Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl (except for Keith’s sloppy solo).

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    More great points, Tony.

    First, we agree on Eddie Kramer’s job on “Slippin’ In.” I think the sound on it is great. I think the ‘best sound’ for Buddy would be somewhere between “Slippin’ In” and “Sweet Tea.” Some kind of hybrid there were you have precision and passion in the production.

    As for who I think is up to the job… that is a tough one. Even though Muddy and Buddy are two different artists, I love what Johnny Winter did for Muddy on the first two Blue Sky recordings (“Hard Again” and “I’m Ready”). He might be a good producer for Buddy. Not really sure who else is out there who would really have a knack for it. I think Jordan was trying to mainstream Guy’s sound, by the way.

    After reading your comments and thinking some more about the distortion, I think I understand what I am hearing. I think Buddy’s guitar sound clashes with the slick production. I think his guitar would have sounded better against a better backdrop. You are right about his playing being strong enough to overcome it.

    I have to get ahold of someo of those PirateBootlegs.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    I guess I should also say I really do love “Sweet Tea.” I think it’s a fantastic album despite the occasional fussy productions. Some songs the heavyhandedness even sounds good. And I like the material – I don’t need to hear Buddy cover “Hoochie Coochie Man” or “Crossroads.” I like the less obvious song choices and I think he sounds great on the record. “Sweet Tea” was the right idea and nearly perfectly pulled off. The back to basics approach had a lot of merit.

  • Tony

    Hi DJRadiohead, you’re right — at times the production wasn’t the best match for Buddy Guy’s guitar. Hopefully, the non-Buddy fans wouldn’t notice those production flaws and are attracted to the more “mainstream Buddy” and some of the standout songs on the album. If so, then Steve Jordan has made Buddy more attractive to a larger audience (if the people who’ve listened to the CD in my car are any indication), maybe creating more interest in Buddy and the blues. They might have figured that they needed this album after the more blues oriented Blues Singer and Sweet Tea albums. Even so, could it have been done better? Yes. Regardless, it’s still one of this year’s best albums to get for guitar playing, vocals, and overall enjoyment value.

    What productions worked for Buddy’s distorted guitar (which he has used since the 1960s in his live performances at least)? “Love Her With A Feeling” on Slippin In has great distortion and solos. Also, Buddy’s cover of Red House (“Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix” album) has heavier distortion than in anything on his Silvertone albums. Both are Eddie Kramer’s work.

    There’s also an awesome soundboard bootleg on the internet of an impromptu guitar jam between Buddy and Stevie Ray Vaughan on July 30, 1989. Buddy’s the heavier, crazier and more intimidating guitar. It wasn’t a fair fight especially Buddy’s playing on “Champagne and Reefer”. The full 56 minute version of the jam session is titled “Still Called The Blues” or “Live At Legends.”

    The http://www.piratebootlegs.com albums were done with Silvertone’s blessings. I have a few of the 11 live show bootlegs. Some are better than others (such as January 17, 9, 30, 28, 31, 29) so ask them for recommendations. Don’t expect a “Real Deal” type production – each show has brilliantly-performed songs and parts where Buddy’s goofing off in his club act or giving guitar solos to his then rhythm guitarist (who has a very good debut album on http://www.frankbang.com). Those bootlegs have more than enough stuff to create a TERRIFIC Live double CD. I’m open to the engineers creatively piecing together bits and parts from Buddy’s performances of the same songs on different nights because there’s so much awesom stuff littered over all those albums it would be a waste not to use them. As long as they don’t tamper with his sound.

    Finally, good thoughts on Johnny Winter, Sweet Tea, Slippin In, back to the basics production, song choices. I also like Alligator’s Stone Crazy and JSP’s D.J. Play My Blues albums, even if the productions aren’t as “sophisticated.” Whoever produces Buddy Guy needs to have a passion for his music, versatile enough to exploit his abilities and be open-minded.

  • MIKE

    Saw Buddy play this past Saturday night in Elgin Illinois. Sounded great. The songs from the new cd sound much better in person. Unfortunately those are the only songs he plays all the way through from begining to end. BUDDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you start playing a song please finish it. 55 bucks is alot to pay to listen to a bunch of half songs……..

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    I am envious, Mike. I would really love to see him live one day.

    I hate to hear that he has gone to the ‘snippets’ approach. I have heard of him doing that in other shows. That would drive me nuts. Glad the new stuff sounded better live.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    You’ve never heard him live, DJ? Man, you’re missing out!

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Phillip, I have seen him live on TV and heard some of his live albums but haven’t seen him in person. He doesn’t seem to be heading near me on his current tour. I might just have to go track him down at Legends.

    I am listening to Episode 6. My volume levels are still a bit crap. I have to go home and tweak things. That and I am never happy with what I put together.

  • Tony

    Buddy’s appearances on TV or video I’ve seen are rarely as good as his fantastic live performances. He often looks tight and nervous when he’s filmed (the antones link above is an exception). Also, he often needs a song to loosen up and connect with the audience. Yeah, he sometimes goofs around or does several half-songs that are building to a climax. Or he teases by playing the opening of Voodoo Child, then shifts gears. Then the next show he’s as perfect as can be, an outta this world show. If you visit Legends, check when he’ll be at the bar — he’ll have a drink with you, chit chat and autograpgh CDs if you’re lucky to have a one on one. He’s a really humble and likeable guy.

  • Mike

    The Joliet show last March was only the second time that I’ve seen him play outside of his club. I saw him last year on his Blues Singer tour. It was all acoustic and very good. I’ve seen him at Legends about a dozen times now over the past few years. I like the Legends shows much better because they are rowdier although it could be because he drinks alot at these shows :) He has always been very approachable in his club and has been very friendly. He will sign one autograph for each person but seems to prefer if the item has been bought at his club. Nothing wrong with that. He will mug for your camera if you are taking a picture during the show. It was great a few years ago when they recorded the January shows at his club and you could buy them on the way out the door. I have have a few of those. I’ve also noticed a lot more bootleg cd’s of his showing up in such places as ebay. I like collecting those…I wish the people at his shows would shut up and not keep screaming his name or some other singers name while he is playing a slow song or talking. He knows what his name is and it’s very annoying to keep hearing people scream it.He knows that he’s BUDDY GUY…..So in the words of the immortal Buddy Guy, “SHUT THE F*CK UP :) …..Mike

  • Tony

    I’ve been lucky. My last three Buddy shows outside his Chicago club were phenomenal. His last show this Spring in my city absolutely blew everyone away, the best live theatre show by any artist in recent years (U2 and Eagles were not worth the ticket price). Buddy played the best Voodoo Child I’ve heard, half the solo played with his teeth. It was different than the version on his January 17 2004 Legends show. He did two walkabouts into the audience playing blistering solos all the way (on the second he went up to both sides of the upper deck). Two years ago, he also had a great show, very focused with minimal chit chat. He had just come off a show where parents who brought kids complained he used the F word too much. Of course the Chicago Legends shows are rowdier, usually amazing and huge fun for such a cheap ticket. And the memorabilia on the club walls are fantastic. On some days you’re packed like sardines and annoying fans keep shouting Buddy’s name or Stevie Ray Vaughan’s (probably the ones who don’t know that Mary Had A little Lamb is Buddy’s song). Most of Buddy’s scheduled Legend’s shows are in January each year, the rest of the year is usually impromptu. It’s well worth getting a couple of the Pirate Bootlegs CDs of those shows.
    http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/music/other_stories/documents/03820995.asp

    As great a live entertainer and performer that Buddy is, he’s only human. I’ve been to a couple of shows where he lapses into half-songs in some parts, banters too much instead of playing, his band plays more than him, and his heart doesn’t seem to be on stage. Maybe he gets tired after touring for 50 years or he drinks too much sometimes. But even when he sucks by Buddy Guy standards, he’s often a better live performer than many artists on their good days.

  • mike

    Have any of the pirate cd’s to trade?…I wasn’t able to get them all…CDR’s are fine.

  • Tony

    Hear Buddy Guy performing a few of the new songs live on the NPR World Cafe radio show website below. The performances start just before the 16 minute mark, after the interview.
    Buddy Guy and Co.: Legend Among Legends
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4954601

    Mike: I have the shows on January 17, 9, 30, 28, 31, 29 and a few others. Also a fantastic jam between Buddy and Steview Ray Vaughan in July 1989.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    I included a song from Buddy’s CD on the most recent episode of my podcast.

  • Tony

    This news story of a Buddy Guy show in Virginia further proves what DJRadiohead wrote in his review: “…Buddy Guy on a regular day outshines many artists at their best.” It also relates to Mike’s experience at a recent Buddy Guy live show.

    THE ROANOKE TIMES: BUDDY GUY CONVERTS STAGE TO HOME OF THE BLUES
    October 15, 2005

    “Who can pitch a wang-dang-doodle, give a history lesson, crack up an audience and make the group testify to the power of the blues?

    Buddy Guy can. For 90 minutes Friday night, Guy turned Jefferson Center’s Shaftman Performance Hall into his house. And the audience was happy to let him turn the hall into a Chicago blues joint for the night…

    The man is a genetic marvel, nearing 70 but still possessed of the dexterity and speed to put a man of 21 to shame.

    But he also has the wisdom gained from his friendships with such blues giants as Muddy Waters, so he knows when to hold back and when to boil up a fever. He ruled the stage, but gave plenty of exposure to the talents of his backing band — particularly Jay Moynihan on sax, Marty Sammon on keyboards, Rick Hall on guitar. All three can burn, but that doesn’t intimidate someone like Guy. They paid him back by being an extra-tight, loose and funky crew…

    …He made sure to tell the sold-out room about the places he’d been and the people he’d known.

    British players such as Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck had cited Guy as a chief influence in what was dubbed the British Invasion of blues and roots rock. Guy took exception to that term of genre. “No it’s not” the British Invasion, he said to building applause from the crowd. “It’s what Muddy Waters was doing, and Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter, and Sonny Boy Williamson, and Jimmy Reed, and John Lee Hooker.” Then he played some of those styles…

    He followed up with Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child,” heavy on the wah-wah. Guy used “Voodoo Child” to crack up the crowd. While he held one sustained note, his head dropped as if he were asleep. His stage manager brought him a mug of coffee and “woke him up.” Guy took a big drink and started ripping back into it, playing with his teeth…

    He spoke about conversations he had with the troubled yet wildly talented Hendrix and Janis Joplin, in which they told him not ever to become a superstar, “because they’re not what you call in the groove.” “I said, ‘The groove you’re in, I don’t want to get in that,’ ” Guy told the crowd.

    He also proved to be spontaneous with the songs he played. He commonly stopped the band so he could tell a quick story and get into another song. “I know you’ll pick up the paper tomorrow, and it’ll say, ‘He forgot the f—— song,’ ” he said to a roar of laughter.

    No, no, Buddy. It’s your stage. Do your thing.”
    http://www.roanoke.com/extra/wb/wb/xp-36379

    Buddy Guy has still got the chops, among all the older musicians of his generation. His live performances, whenever he decides to turn it on, are still among the best. And he does it without the gimmicks and props other artists have to use to compensate for their lack of on-stage talent. Buddy’s always taking risks and stretching out. He never repeats the same thing night after night. He’ll often change the same song dramatically from one performance to the next, and his funky band competently jams along with his spontaneity. For example, Buddy’s performances of “What Kind of Woman Is This” are different on the studio version, his live performances on Jay Leno’s Tonight show in late September as well as on the NPR World Cafe radio show (see post #24).

  • Dave Perry

    Gotta say Lay Lady Lay works on every level and is one of the best covers of some classic material I ever heard makes my soul leap up just like the Faces cover of “I Know I’m Losing You”…it just don’t get no better, Dave Perry.

    lay