Monday, April 19, 2010
Buddy GUY and Junior WELLS - Alone and Acoustic 1991
This CD is simply outstanding. Originally released in 1981, it features blues greats Buddy Guy and Junior Wells unplugged. Two men, one day in Paris, one acoustic guitar and one harmonica with each sharing the vocal duties. While the material is not new it is performed with such individuality and conviction that other interpretations of this same material pales in comparison. There are 15 songs arranged into an hours worth of deep south acoustic blues. This has got to be one of Alligators finest releases and is a must have for any fan of these two giants, fans of acoustic blues and fans of the blues period.
The magical synergy of Junior Wells and Buddy Guy was apparent in "Hoodoo Man Blues", recorded before Buddy Guy was well known. Junior Wells' subsequent solo works, while workmanlike, have never achieved the same pinnacle (e.g., Come On Into This House). With this joint effort, that synergy is back.
It is very interesting to see (hear) the pair together 30 years after that first work together. The undefinable synergy is still there - Is it the way Buddy sets up a background for Junior's vocals or harmonica? Or is it the way that Junior defers to Buddys guitar? However, with age, the two interact more sensitively and with a polish - No, a burnished patina - that makes this work a mellower version of their earlier work together. Both performers are secure in their careers and accomplishments and this results in a very special and mature interaction between them.
From the folk blues of Big Boat to the John Lee Hooker homage in Boogie Chillen, the pairing in "Alone and Acoustic" is seamless - You can almost see one person playing the guitar and harmonica while singing.
Caution: As the title suggests, this is not the Buddy Guy that Jimi Hendrix studied. For those of us who grew up with the Eric Clapton of John Mayall (also Cream, Blind Faith) Canned Heat, and Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac as our introduction to the blues (along with Hendrix's 'Red House') in the late 60's, this could be a disappointment. But to me the CD is not. It is a great pleasure, with the lack of other instruments a sort of relief. No, for those of us of that era, this is more like the 'Hot Tuna' record (remember records?) after lots of electric music from Jefferson Airplane, Led Zepplin, Cream, Iron Butterfly, etc... clean and unpretentious.
And in 'Big Boat' we hear something like one of my favorites from Hoodoo Man, Buddy's sharp "Ow!" during Junior's first harmonica solo in 'Early in the Morning'. And Buddy sings on this one, too! (Hoodoo Man is one of the classic blues albums - Do yourself a favor and get it if you don't have it!)
By Henry Kerfoot.
One of the best duos in the history of the blues, guitarist Buddy Guy and harmonica player Junior Wells made several recordings together over the decades, but this one is unique in their discography. Recorded in the midst of a 1981 European tour, Guy and Wells took a break from their backing musicians and amps to cut this spontaneous, all-acoustic set. The results stand in stark contrast to the hot-and-heavy Chicago blues the duo is known for. Instead, 1981's ALONE & ACOUSTIC is relaxed and personal, with an intimate, back-porch feel.
Guy switches between six- and 12-string guitars, and lays down rootsy acoustic rhythms for Wells's keening harmonica lines. The two share vocal duties, spinning through a handful of originals (including Guy's "Give Me My Coat and Shoes" and Wells's "Wrong Doing Woman"), songs by John Lee Hooker ("Boogie Chillen") and Muddy Waters ("My Home's in the Delta"), as well as some nods to traditional tunes ("Catfish Blues"). In fact, the performances here pay homage to the rural, country-blues roots these modern bluesmen share. Originally released only in France, ALONE & ACOUSTIC was reissued by Alligator Records in 1991 with five bonus tracks.
This reissue includes 5 previously unreleased songs.
Buddy Guy- Electric Guitar, Vocals, 12-string Guitar
Junior Wells- Harmonica, Vocals
01. Give Me My Coat And Shoes 3:49
02. Big Boat (Buddy and Junior's Thing) 5:13
03. Sweet Black Girl 3:32
04. Diggin' My Potatoes 4:28
05. Don't Leave Me 3:43
06. Rollin' and Tumblin' 4:33
07. I'm In The Mood 3:22
08. High Heel Sneakers 4:56
09. Wrong Doing Woman 3:00
10. Cut You Loose 4:03
11. Sally Mae 2:30
12. Catfish Blues 3:33
13. My Home's In The Delta 3:05
14. Boogie Chillen 4:00
15. Baby What You Want Me To Do/That's Allright 5:44