After B.B. King has passed this year, Buddy Guy is left alone as inviolable king of blues (all due respects to legendary protagonist of golden age of electric Chicago blues, James Cotton). Curve of Buddy’s career has been slightly different that the normal professional curve of his colleagues, who reached their peaks before the British invasion in the 60s and then continued to live and work based on old fame.
He became a rock legend in the 60s when Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix have named him as their idol and Stevie Ray Vaughn was covering his songs. Still, Buddy’s solo career didn’t reach its full potential until the 90s when the album Damn Right, I Got The Bluesg revived his image to be more attractive to modern crossover audience. Until then, he was pretty much just a passenger on a journey Muddy Waters or Junior Wells were taking.
Why did it take him so long to be in the spotlight? It is because he is the happiest when he is interpreting songs and not when he writes him. The last period of his career has began when he started a partnership with Tom Habridge. From 2008 Skin Deep, Tom is his drummer and producer. Hambridge has injected fresh blood into the formula invented with Damn Right, I Got The Blues – a little bit of old-school Chicago blues, a lot of blues rock, little bit of guest appearances, few acoustic tracks here and there, crossovers to funk, soul and pop.
The same formula was used in creation of his latest record Born To Play Guitar. It starts with the title track, a piece of traditional club blues. His powerful voice and explosive guitar are shining bright like the golden era of Chicago blues. Right after this one, the album is speeding up with Wear You Out, a blues-rock amphetamine with a dirty sound Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top is known for.
(Baby)You Got What It Takes features Joss Stone and it’s a soul-blues tribute to Etta James. Swing-blues style appears on The Fabulous Thunderbirds, while Flesh&Bone is an Irish soul dedication to B.B.King that features Van Marrison.
Dynamic of the album is kept by eclecticism and changes in tempo. Funky Whiskey, Beer and Wine, atmospheric pop ballade Crazy World, nostalgic acoustic blues Come Back Muddy.
Compared to his previous album Rhythm & Blues, Born To Play Guitar is balanced in its divergence. The most important thing is that the eruption of Buddy’s voice and guitar are never going to get old.