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Blues - Released July 31, 2015 | Silvertone

Hi-Res Distinctions Grammy Awards
Once again working with producer/songwriter Tom Hambridge -- the bluesman's main collaborator since 2008's Skin Deep -- Buddy Guy serves up a straight-ahead platter with Born to Play Guitar, his 28th studio album. Many of Guy's latter-day records loosely follow a theme, but Born to Play Guitar is pretty direct: just a collection of songs designed to showcase Buddy's oversized Stratocaster. Which isn't to say there's either a lack of variety or pro forma songwriting here. Hambridge cleverly colors Born to Play Guitar with a few bold, unexpected flourishes: the sweeps of sweet strings that accentuate "(Baby) You've Got What It Takes," a duet with Joss Stone that lightly recalls Etta James' Chess Records work; the big, blaring horns of "Thick Like Mississippi Mud" that moves that track out of the Delta and into an urban setting; the acoustic "Come Back Muddy" which performs that trick in reverse, pushing Chicago blues back down south. Elsewhere, Van Morrison contributes a moving tribute to B.B. King in "Flesh and Bone," a heartfelt ballad that doesn't quite fit with the rest of the record because it's about song, not feel -- a nice anomaly on a record whose greater concern is juke joint boogie. Guy delivers on this front quite ably, particularly when he's paired with fellow blues lifer Kim Wilson (as he is on "Too Late" and "Kiss Me Quick") or when Billy Gibbons slithers out of the Texas hills to lay down the heavy stomp of "Wear You Out," and while there are no surprises on these duets, nor on the proudly traditional Chicago blues of "Born to Play Guitar," "Back Up Mama," and "Whiskey, Beer & Wine," there is still pleasure in hearing a master tear into his beloved music. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Blues - Released January 1, 1990 | Vanguard Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The guitarist's first album away from Chess -- and to be truthful, it sounds as though it could have been cut at 2120 S. Michigan, with Guy's deliciously understated guitar work and a tight combo anchored by three saxes and pianist Otis Spann laying down tough grooves on the vicious "Mary Had a Little Lamb," "I Can't Quit the Blues," and an exultant cover of Mercy Dee's "One Room Country Shack." ~ Bill Dahl

Blues - Released March 4, 2005 | Silvertone

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
This Grammy-winning comeback set brought Buddy Guy back to prominence after a long studio hiatus. There are too many clichéd cover choices -- "Five Long Years," "Mustang Sally," "Black Night," "There Is Something on Your Mind" -- to earn unreserved recommendation, but Guy's frenetic guitar histrionics ably cut through the superstar-heavy proceedings (Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Mark Knopfler all turn up) on the snarling title cut and a handful of others. ~ Bill Dahl

Blues - Released June 15, 2018 | Silvertone

Damn Right ! Who could disagree? Of course Buddy Guy has blues in the blood! The Chicago guitar legend is saying it loud on this album: The Blues Is Alive And Well! At 81 years old, he seems on better form than ever, and has a lot to teach the youth. This is a punkier, rockier bluesman than the present generation, who knows how to bring the blues to a white audience. Old fashioned? The accusation wouldn't offend Buddy Guy, who's just playing his guitar right. Here, the guitarist is discussing the blues with guests who have the stature to hold a conversation with him. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck and James Bay feed his talent, and stay in perfect harmony with his genius. And what would be blues without talk of booze and old friends? On Cognac, Buddy Guy seems to shed twenty years when he evokes Muddy Waters. It's too late to sip a brandy with him, but now he's got Keith and others for company. Getting wasted in style, filling up on booze and the blues, dealing out a hand that can't ever end: that's the spirit of the blues. Beyond the music, there is a real discussion that starts between guitar riffs, piano chords and the singer's penetrating voice. Better than a trance, this is a stairway to the underworld opening up. And then there's such a captivating groove on The Blues Is Alive And Well. It's a grand declaration of love for the genre, which, through solitude, poverty and suffering, remains a faithful friend, a life-saver, an intimate journal. Perhaps the album should be seen as a kind of passing-onward of the blues to the generations to come. Blue No More gives a fair account of the idea. It's a duet where Buddy Guy is singing face-to-face with the Pearly Gates. It doesn't dampen his mood at all, through, because he knows that others down below will pick up his baton. And James Bay echoes his master's words back to him: "I won’t be blue no more". © Clara Bismuth/Qobuz

Blues - Released March 6, 2003 | Silvertone

Arriving after the unexpected blast of raw energy that was 2001's Sweet Tea, 2003's Blues Singer could idealistically be seen as the acoustic flip side of that high-voltage, raw electric blues. Like Sweet Tea, Blues Singer is supposed to exist deep down within the Delta blues tradition, only finding Buddy Guy armed with an acoustic guitar and the occasional minimal accompaniment; it's even recorded at the same Mississippi studio that gave its name to the 2001 platter and is helmed by the same producer, Dennis Herring. If only it were that simple! Instead of being an extension or a mirror image of its predecessor, this record is a sleepy comedown from an exhilarating peak. Where Sweet Tea was filled with unpredictable song choices, this plays it safe, hauling out such familiar items as "Hard Time Killing Floor," "Crawlin' Kingsnake," "I Love the Life I Live," and "Sally Mae." And while this retains Jimbo Mathus on guitar, when other musicians pop up, it's not the lively Fat Possum crew, it's studio pros like Jim Keltner, or guest shots by superstars Eric Clapton and B.B. King. While this does afford listeners the rare opportunity to hear B.B. on acoustic, it gives the affair the audience-pleasing veneer that weighed down his mid-'90s efforts. Plus, when it comes right down to it, Guy simply is off on this record, with lazy, mannered vocals and by the book guitar. Despite a few good acoustic duet sessions with Junior Wells, acoustic blues is not really Guy's forte, and the highly disappointing Blues Singer illustrates exactly why. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Blues - Released January 11, 2013 | Jive

Buddy Guy's career and discography have been marked by inconsistency. Especially since his high-profile comeback in the early '90s, it seems he's been all too willing to turn over creative control on his albums, both for better and worse. Even just looking at the covers of those albums bears this out: 1991's Damn Right I've Got the Blues has him dressed in your basic '90s casual dress, but the next album has him wearing overalls! Anyone who saw Guy live any number of times before that album was released would realize that he never wore overalls. Then fast forward to the neo-psychedelic look of Heavy Love. The productions themselves have been similarly schizophrenic: big glossy guest star-laden albums to a heavy blues-rock sound to deep modal electric blues to acoustic albums. Well, this time out, drummer/session man Steve Jordan is in the producer's chair, and it seems that he wanted to give Guy a more contemporary sound. To that end, the songs are mostly lifted from the soul/R&B world: tracks written by Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and Steve Cropper. All the members of the assembled core band -- Jordan on drums, Danny Kortchmar on guitar, Willie Weeks on bass, and Bernie Worrell on keys (mostly Fender Rhodes) -- are solid players. There's a reason they've got probably thousands of credits between them, but the backing often comes off as professional rather than passionate. That can't be said of Guy, who always seems to bring plenty of passion to the proceedings, but for everything here that works, there's some kind of misstep. The Rhodes often adds a nice touch (as does the Optigan on "What Kind of Woman Is This"), but the slick backing vocals on "Now You're Gone" and "I've Got Dreams to Remember" really don't fit. Guest star du jour John Mayer adds nothing to "I've Got Dreams to Remember," and neo-soulster Anthony Hamilton pretty much takes over "Lay Lady Lay." Carlos Santana is producer for a thoroughly Santana-fied version of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You" (right down to the "Oye Como Va" keyboard lick) that might have fit on a Santana album but really doesn't fit here. Robert Randolph and Keith Richards' contributions fare better, with each fitting into the song nicely. "Somebody's Sleeping in My Bed" has some pretty hot guitar from Guy, but perhaps the album highlight is "Cut You Loose" because, well, he just cuts loose. Overall, Bring 'Em In is a mixed bag. Folks who liked Damn Right I've Got the Blues and Feels Like Rain will surely find a lot to like here. Guy's performances are solid, but the settings don't always suit him as well as they could. In fact, it almost seems like all the photos of Guy's "blues" jewelry are there to remind listeners that this is supposed to be a blues album. Won't somebody please get him in a recording situation where he can just be himself, with his working band? ~ Sean Westergaard

Blues - Released July 26, 2013 | RCA Records Label

A great open secret of the last act of Buddy Guy's career is that nearly every album he's made in the new millennium is a concept album of sorts, ranging from the gnarled modern Delta blues of Sweet Tea and the acoustic Blues Singer to the pseudo-autobiography of 2010's Living Proof. Rhythm & Blues trumps them all in size and concept: it's a double-disc set divided into one disc of "Rhythm" (aka soul) and one disc of "Blues" (aka blues of the Chicago variety). Several stars come out to help Guy along, top-lined by three-fifths of Aerosmith on "Evil Twin" and Kid Rock on, naturally, "Messin' with the Kid." The former arrives on "Blues" and the latter on "Rhythm," which suggests how fluid the lines are between the two discs. But it's also generally true that the "Rhythm" disc is big, bold, and brassy in a way Buddy rarely is; often, it's much closer to the late, great Bobby "Blue" Bland, albeit a hyper-charged, over-scaled version of soul-blues. Guy has rarely attempted this kind of horn-driven, soulful blues and it's fun to hear him tackle such sounds as he wrestles the rhythms while spitting out gonzo, gnarly guitar runs. Better still, he finds a place to settle down within the slinky grooves of "I Go By Feel" and the Keith Urban duet "One Day Away," which are not only the two greatest surprises in tone, but also the two songs that sink their hooks in deep. That's not always the case here, at least for the originals, particularly on the "Blues" disc which either trades in pastiche ("Meet Me in Chicago," "All That Makes Me Happy Is the Blues") or function as simple showcases for Guy's guitar. If this package can sometimes feel a little too pat, put the blame on producer Tom Hambridge, who also helmed Skin Deep and Living Proof and now has a track record of pushing Guy just enough to form a narrative but not enough to break him out of the box. Buddy himself remains a bit of a live wire, his voice sounding younger than Steven Tyler's and his guitar continuing to be a muscled monster that steamrollers everything surrounding it. That continued potency is reason enough to give Rhythm & Blues a spin. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Blues - Released January 11, 2014 | Isabel Records


Soul - Released May 15, 2001 | Silvertone

Apparently somebody took the criticisms of Buddy Guy's late-'90s Silvertone recordings to heart. They were alternately criticized for being too similar to Damn Right I Got the Blues or, as 1998's Heavy Love, too blatant in its bid for a crossover rock audience. So, after a bit of a break, Guy returned in 2001 with Sweet Tea, an utter anomaly in his catalog. Recorded at the studio of the same name in deep Mississippi, this is a bold attempt to make a raw, pure blues album -- little reliance on familiar covers or bands, no crossover material, lots of extended jamming and spare production. That's not to say that it's without its gimmicks. In a sense, the very idea behind this record is a little gimmicky -- let's get Buddy back to the basics -- even if it's a welcome one, but that's not the problem. The problem is that the production is a bit too self-conscious in its stylized authenticity. There's too much separation, too much echo, a strangely hollow center -- it may sound rougher than nearly all contemporary blues albums, but it doesn't sound gritty, which it should. Despite this, Sweet Tea is still a welcome addition to Buddy Guy's catalog because, even with its affected production, it basically works. Playing in such an unrestricted setting loosens Buddy up, not just letting him burn on guitar, but allows him to act his age without embarrassment (check the chilling acoustic opener, "Done Got Old"). This may not showcase the showman of the artist live, the way Damn Right did, but it does something equally noteworthy -- it illustrates that the master bluesman still can sound vital and can still surprise. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Blues - Released March 15, 2005 | Silvertone


Blues - Released October 22, 2010 | Silvertone


Blues - Released June 15, 1999 | Silvertone

Buddy Guy revitalized his career when he signed with Silvertone Records in the early '90s. His first album for the label, Damn Right, I've Got the Blues, was a smash success, earning critical acclaim, awards, and sales hand over fist. Prior to that record, he was a legend only among blues fans; afterward, he was a star. Although it was a bit too rock-oriented and slick for purists, Damn Right was a terrific album, setting the pace not only for Guy but for modern electric blues in the '90s. As the decade wore on, Guy continued to make albums for Silvertone, some of them a little complacent, others quite excellent. Buddy's Baddest: The Best of Buddy Guy attempts to summarize those years in 14 songs, including three previously unreleased cuts. Not surprisingly, the compilers favor the Guy of Damn Right, featuring four songs from the record and three from its soundalike sequel, Feels Like Rain. Only two tracks from Slippin' In, his hardest blues record for the label, made the cut, while the fine live album Live! The Real Deal and the misguided Heavy Love are represented by a track apiece. In other words, a lot of good stuff remains on the original albums, which is doubly unfortunate since the three unreleased cuts are all throwaways. By relying so heavily on two records, Buddy's Baddest doesn't wind up being an accurate portrait of Guy's Silvertone recordings. That doesn't mean it's a bad listen, since the first ten songs are all very good and quite entertaining. However, anyone who has Damn Right but wants to dig deeper into Guy's Silvertone albums may prefer to pick up Feels Like Rain, which offers more of the same crossover Chicago blues, or Slippin' In, which is the real deal. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Jazz - Released June 11, 2003 | Silvertone


Blues - Released January 1, 1992 | Geffen*


Blues - Released December 14, 2012 | Silvertone

Live at Legends captures the raging bluesman during a blistering set at his club in early 2010, playing pretty much exactly what you'd expect: "Damn Right I Got the Blues," "Best Damn Fool," and medleys of "I Just Want to Make Love to You/Chicken Heads," "Boom Boom/Strange Brew," and "Voodoo Chile/Sunshine of Your Love." That said, this isn't a complaint. While it's true that Guy and his crack band have his show down cold -- this same basic set has been around for at least a decade with some additions and substitutions made while on tour playing larger venues -- they throw down each and every time. Given that this is his club, the senses of immediacy and a certain closeness are present here whereas they're missing on other live recordings. While Legends isn't exactly an intimate venue, it's a lot smaller than many of the places Guy plays every year. The sound is great, it keeps the raw edges and Guy tears the guitar to pieces throughout. What's interesting is that the live cuts make up only about 34 minutes of this recording and comprise only eight cuts. The other three are all new studio recordings cut in Nashville a couple of months after this gig, with help from some stellar studio aces including famed guitarist David Grissom (Joe Ely/John Mellencamp), Reese Wynans on B-3, his own pianist Marty Sammon, and bassists Michael Rhodes or Tommy Macdonald with drummer Tom Hambridge. "Polka Dot Love" is a slow Guy blues played in overdrive, with excellent interplay between him and Grissom. "Coming for You" (penned by Delbert McClinton) adds the Memphis Horns to the mix, in what amounts to a freewheeling, blues, rock, and funk jam. The closer is a soulful reading of Muddy Waters' "Country Boy," in which Guy looks deeply into the original version for inspiration. Why this set is assembled like this is a puzzler, but Guy's motivations have puzzled fans and critics since the very beginning. For the faithful, this amounts to a necessary "new" Buddy Guy recording. ~ Thom Jurek

Jazz - Released January 1, 2011 | GRP Records

The historical details surrounding the recording session that became Buddy & the Juniors are almost as entertaining -- and oddly satisfying -- as the music itself. Released on Blue Thumb in 1970 on multi-colored wax, this session, was it not for a very real economic necessity due to Buddy Guy's feud with Vanguard Records, would never have happened. It appears that Vanguard wouldn't pick up the tab for Guy to fly to New York to mix an album he'd cut with Junior Mance and Gary Bartz -- also produced by Cuscuna. Being an ever-enterprising genius, Cuscuna pitched the idea for a recording between Guy, Mance, and Junior Wells to Blue Thumb label boss Bob Krasnow, who jumped at the chance. The all-acoustic Buddy & the Juniors was recorded on December 18 of 1969, and on December 19, they mixed this album and the Vanguard date! While an acoustic pairing between Guy and Wells is a natural one, adding jazz pianist Mance -- a Chicago native whose early influences were the boogie-woogie recordings of Meade "Lux" Lewis and Albert Ammons -- to the mix was risky in terms of interpersonal dynamics, but in retrospect, proved a brilliant idea. The proceedings are informal and raw with plenty of fireworks. The first two tracks -- "Talkin' 'Bout Women Obviously" and "Riffin' (aka A Motif Is Just a Riff)" -- were the last two recorded. They are blazing, hairy, on-the-spot improvisational duets between Wells and Guy: the former offers lyrics in a back-and-forth extemporaneous style; the latter develops in intensity as it goes on. The playing by Guy and Wells is inspirational. "Buddy's Blues," the first interplay of the trio, has Mance digging deeply into the Otis Spann tradition, just rolling inside it, accenting lines, punching chords, and offering beautiful tags to Wells' harmonica lines. Wells' vocal on "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man" meets Guy's six-string head-on, with Mance comping and popping a melodic fill underneath each sung phrase. He introduces "Five Long Years" as a piano blues that gets countered in exponential grit by Guy's vocal and Wells' punchy harp; he shuffles, fills, trills, and blows straight at the keyboard, creating a forceful gale of dialogue. On the slippery boogie-woogie set closer, Wells' "Ain't No Need," the listener grasps the deep communication of this trio. Given how earthy, informal, and joyful this acoustic session is, it conveys everything right about Chicago blues. ~ Thom Jurek

Blues - Released January 3, 1993 | Silvertone

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"). Guy's vocals, often under appreciated, really sell this song. As for his guitar playing, it is slightly below his usually high standards. He often sounds sloppy and unfocused, an extremely noticeable exception being his explosive solo on the John Mayall duet "I Could Cry," but his singing, especially on the soulful "Feels Like Rain," is full of character. Guy's backing band is top-notch, particularly bassist Greg Rzab, who plays both more actively and more melodically than most bassists working in the blues idiom. Guy has recorded better blues in his career, but on Feels Like Rain he shows that he is comfortable in more mainstream situations as well. The blues on this record often just sound flat for some reason, like Guy and his band are just going through the motions. But on up-tempo R&B tracks such as the Paul Rodgers duet "Some Kind of Wonderful" or Guy's pairing with Travis Tritt on "Change in the Weather," the bluesman sounds excited and fresh. It must be mentioned that the production is a bit on the thin side throughout, and many of the tracks simply do not pack enough punch. Despite this, the album is quite strong. Feels Like Rain is not the place to look for Guy the legendary blues guitarist, but, taken for what it is, it is extremely entertaining. ~ Daniel Gioffre

Blues - Released April 22, 1996 | Silvertone


Blues - Released December 6, 2018 | Rarity Music


Blues - Released June 15, 2018 | Silvertone

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