It’s hard to believe that Buddy Guy just turned 79 years old. You would never know it listening to him on Born to Play Guitar, except for the stories the lyrics tell and his tribute to two of his dear friends, Muddy Waters and B.B. King. He sounds just as strong and his music is just as fresh and contemporary as ever. In fact, for those “blues purists” who somehow think blues should not cross over into rock, this CD should be a slap across the ears. Guy is one of the few remaining living Chicago blues legends, and he reminds us with his versatility that the blues has always been a mix of musical styles.
The most poignant songs on this CD are Guy’s tributes to his friends. “Come Back Muddy” is a sweet and sassy message from Guy to his mentor, remembering the times they had and expressing his nostalgia for those days. Then there is “Flesh and Bone,” written in tribute to King and performed with Van Morrison. It is such a perfect song, expressing how the soul outlives the body, filled with reverence and love.
But do not think this is a sad or reflective CD at its core. Oh, no. Guy promises on one track that he will “Wear You Out,” and then he proceeds to do that in the most enjoyable way possible.
In his long career, Guy has acquired a lot of friends and Morrison is not the only one who shows up to join the fun here. Joss Stone adds sizzle and is the perfect duet partner for Guy on “(Baby) You Got What It Takes.” Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top helps supply the workout on “Wear You Out,” and Kim Wilson of The Fabulous Thunderbirds adds his magic harmonica to “Too Late” and “Kiss Me Quick.”
Everybody on this album sounds as though they are having a good time, Guy most of all. He plays the heck out of his 1957 Stratocaster and he proves that, indeed, as the title song says, he was “Born to Play Guitar.” On “Turn Me Wild,” Guy tells us: “The blues done turned me wild/Dug deep down in my soul,” and we all owe the blues a debt for that.
Guy has made scores of albums in his career. This one measures up to any of his best, and that is high praise indeed.
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