BORN TO PLAY GUITAR
Delivering electric live performances at the age of 79 is one thing, but finding something new to say on record when nearly 50 albums drenched in the blues have gone before is another. That Buddy Guy – he of the huge, keening voice and searing guitar licks – has done it is thanks in large part to a second collaboration with the exceptional song-writing, drumming and producing skills of Tom Hambridge.
Hambridge has written or co-written 12 of these 14 songs, five with Guy; songs rooted in the Chicago tradition, but with cunning lyrics, strong tunes and catchy hooks. Most importantly they are tailor-made for Guy’s vocal strengths, with sly innuendo one moment and roaring fervour the next. Meanwhile the guitar solos howl and cry as only Guy’s can, torrentially so on Smarter Than I Was. Among the guests are ex-Hendrix bassist Billy Cox and Van Morrison, the latter sharing growly vocals on a BB King tribute. The highlight, however, is the raw, potent and sad Come Back Muddy. Amen to that.