Saturday, March 27, 2010

Buddy GUY - Blues Singer 2003

Buddy GUY - Blues Singer 2003
Recorded at Sweet Tea, Oxford, Mississippi.


Not known for his acoustic work, Buddy Guy unplugs for a rare album-length excursion into folk blues. Continuing the rootsy, bare-bones approach that made 2001’s electric Sweet Tea (also produced by Dennis Herring) so gutsy and memorable, the guitarist gets down and dirty with 12 tracks that sound like they were recorded after hours in his living room or on his back porch. Guy’s stinging leads are still evident as is his emotive voice, but both are less flamboyant in the unplugged setting. Accompanied by spare stand-up bass and brushed drums, Guy sounds nearly possessed on covers from Skip James ("Hard Time Killing Floor"), Johnny Shines ("Moanin’ and Groanin’"), Son House ("Louise McGhee"), and John Lee Hooker ("Sally Mae") among others. It’s a low-key, low-down affair made for late nights, rainy days, and the saddest of moods. Guy is just as convincing here--arguably more so--as on his barnstorming electric albums, making Blues Singer one of the bravest and most poignant albums in his catalog.
By Hal Horowitz. AMG.
Blues neophytes who jumped on the Buddy Guy bandwagon with his last album, the overpraised "Sweet Tea" will doubtless be scratching their heads at the living legend's new disc, "Blues Singer." This disc is a low-key, acoustic tip of the cap to blues masters of the past. Make that very low-key. Guy's guitar is strictly by-the-book and unobtrusive on this unplugged effort; in fact, the guitar tends to be mixed so low you wonder what they were thinking. But really, that was the point: it's called "Blues Singer", after all, and the spotlight is on Guy's laid-back but very effective vocals on these 12 covers that range from well-known to relatively obscure blues songs. Obviously, the inspiration is Muddy Waters' early '60s "Folk Singer" album, on which Guy contributed tasteful acoustic guitar. Nothing wrong with that. So, think "Folk Singer" but also Guy's off-the-cuff acoustic teaming with the great Junior Wells on "Alone and Acoustic", recorded in 1981 and available on Alligator. Hushed, deliberate, reverential but mostly effective. On "Blues Singer" Guy does a fine job aping Skip James' falsetto vocals on the lead track, "Hard Time Killing Floor." There are also three John Lee Hooker tunes, a Frankie Lee Sims cover, a little Robert Nighthawk and, of course, a nod to Muddy on "I Love the Life I Live." Also, there's a really nice rendering of a Son House tune, "Louise McGhee". Jimbo Mathus provides guitar help on nearly every cut, and exactly half the tunes have rhythm supplied by drums (Jim Keltner) and upright bass. Electric? Nope. Fast-paced? Uh-uh. Impassioned? Only partly. This is after-hours, respectful acoustic blues that one would expect to be recorded on a European label as a one-off after a festival gig. This isn't really a criticism. It works, for what it is. Guy's getting up there in years, and a down-home acoustic album of important covers is just fine; this album will seem more significant later on. It's not classic, it's not spine-tingling, but you know what? I prefer this to the admirable experiment but occasional mess that was the raucous "Sweet Tea". But now that he's done both extremes, how about a return to the nearly perfect electric blues
of "Slippin' In"?
By Tim Weber.
Buddy Guy- (Vocals, Guitar);
B.B. King, Eric Clapton, James "Jimbo" Mathus- (Guitar);
Tony Garnier- (Upright Bass);
Jim Keltner- (Drums);
01. Hard Time Killing Floor 2:48
02. Crawlin' Kingsnake 5:17
03. Lucy Mae Blues 3:33
04. Can't See Baby 4:04
05. I Love The Life.. 2:47
06. Louise McGhee 5:24
07. Moanin' and Groanin' 3:30
08. Black Cat Blues 4:29
09. Bad Life Blues 3:45
10. Sally Mae 4:28
11. Anna Lee 4:15
12. Lonesome Home Blues 5:00