George ‘Buddy’ Guy is a throwback to another era. The 78-year-old, a Bluesfest veteran, is still touring relentlessly, and this is the 28th studio album in a career that has reshaped rock’n’roll and electric guitar playing. Jimi Hendrix once referred to Guy as one of his teachers.
As ever, Guy’s rich guitar tone and soul-tinged vocals evoke a lifetime of lessons learnt. His tales of struggle from a tough upbringing on a Louisiana sharecrop farm through to performing at the White House are enthralling. On Born To Play Guitar, his solos are spiky, measured and fluent, and he wails on the soulful manifesto ‘Crying Out Of One Eye’. Meanwhile, the thumping rhythm of ‘Smarter Than I Was’ maintains the menacing momentum of the record. Guy’s voice proclaims, taunts and moans, whether recounting advice from his mother or musings on his eternal woman trouble.
Van Morrison joins Guy on ‘Flesh & Bone’, a wonderful tribute to recently departed friend B.B. King – a fellow trailblazer of blues music. Joss Stone and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top also appear.
The only downside to this album is that no recording can ever truly capture Guy’s trademark charisma, flair and technique. Hopefully he’ll be back in town for Bluesfest soon.
Buddy Guy’s Born To Play Guitar is available through Sony.