Buddy Guy: Rhythm & Blues Review

Rhythm and Blues

Buddy Guy – Next to Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, his name personifies Chicago blues. Considering he’ll be 77 years old on July 30th, you’d think he’d be ready to sit down and take it easy. His new album is proof that like good whiskey and fine wine he’s just gotten better with age. For Buddy’s birthday he gives us all a gift with Rhythm & Blues, a two disc album filled with some stellar collaborations and which after over 50 albums is probably one of his best releases.

This album is once again produced by the Grammy winning producer Tom Hambridge (Living Proof, 2010). A musician who is criminally unknown for his own blues rock releases. Tom Hambridge plays the drums throughout the album. After that there are two basic all-star sets of musicians. The first consists of David Grissom (guitar), Reese Wynans, (B3), and Michael Rhodes (bass). The second set consists of Rob McNeely (guitar), Kevin McKendree, (B3), and Tommy MacDonald (bass). As if the musicianship wasn’t enough in the above list, Buddy also has the following guest stars; Kid Rock, Gary Clark Jr., Beth Hart, Keith Urban, and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, who all contribute something unique and interesting.

With two discs of quality material to pick from it’s difficult to discuss them all. Suffice to say there isn’t a bad track. So we’ll just discuss the highlights.

Disc 1

“Justifyin’” is the second track and it is a fast rockin’ powerhouse of a track. It’s amazing that Buddy can rip notes off his guitar at that rate at almost 77 years old. “I Go By Feel” slows things down as Buddy explains a conversation with an old blues teacher when he was younger and how the concept that feel is what sets a great musician apart from someone who is technically capable. You can throw all the notes at someone you want but there is that connection with a few simple notes where an artist can express all the emotion of the song. Buddy next teams up with Kid Rock to cover the appropriately named Elmore James tune “Messin’ with the Kid,” which Buddy played guitar on way back in 1965. Kid’s gruff voice actually meshes well with the attitude of the song.

Shortly after that we get a cover, “One Day Away,” which was written by one of Buddy’s long time touring guitar players, Scott Holt, who is another artist everyone should check out. Keith Urban lends his country swagger to the song singing about telling someone you love them and the need to seize the day and to not wish one day away. Beth Hart steps up next and let’s everything rip on the spectacular track “What You Gonna Do About Me” as she trades lyrics with Buddy, proving once again why she is one of the powerhouse female vocalists of this generation.

Disc 2

The second disc starts out with a tribute to Buddy’s hometown with “Meet Me In Chicago.” Buddy lists the highlights of his hometown, like deep dish pizza, Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, Wabash Avenue, and in Buddy’s typical humble style he of course lists Buddy Guy playing the blues, which is reason enough to come to Chicago. “Evil Twin” brings the members of Aerosmith in for a straight up blues anthem. “All That Makes Me Happy is the Blues” is slow blues that is all about exactly what the song title says it is.  Blues is known for being a genre of music about sadness, but it’s not meant to be sad. It’s really meant to be an uplifting release of all of our problems. The final track that stands out on here is collaboration with Gary Clark Jr. on the rollicking “Blues Don’t Care.”

Buddy will always be one of the legends of the blues. He has always blurred the lines between blues and rock and roll. Filled with his signature tone and that Buddy Guy attitude, Rhythm & Blues just continues to cement his legacy as one of the greatest guitar players.

The Review: 9.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Justifyin’
– I Go By Feel
– One Day Away (Featuring Keith Urban)
– Meet Me In Chicaco
– What You Gonna Do About Me (Featuring Beth Hart)

The Big Hit

– What You Gonna Do About Me (Featuring Beth Hart)

Review by Kevin O’Rourke

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

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One Response to “Buddy Guy: Rhythm & Blues Review”

  1. John Dallas says:

    This is an excellent 2-CD set. Don’t pass it up!!

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