Best Buddy Guy Album
'His guitar-playing style was so visceral, so ferocious, that the blues had to be running through his veins. Guitarist giants such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan cite him as an influence." - Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame
Blues musician Buddy Guy was born George Guy on July 30, 1936, in Lettsworth, Louisiana. Born to Sam and Isabel Guy, Buddy was one of five children. At age 7, he gained an interest in music and created a makeshift two-stringed instrument with a piece of wood and a few hairpins that he called a guitar. His earliest influences included T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Slim and Lightnin’ Hopkins—blues musicians who were all uniquely expressive stylists and showmen.
By the age of 19, Guy was working as a custodian at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and was able to acquire his first real guitar. He began playing in clubs around Baton Rouge honing his musical skills, including playing a year and a half playing with John “Big Poppa” Tilley’s band. Two years later, Guy made the commitment to seriously pursue a career in music and followed a friend's advice to try his luck in Chicago. After sending a tape to Chess Records, Guy headed to Chicago.
Shortly after arriving in Chicago, Guy met Otis Rush, who introduced the green musician to the 708 Club. While playing there Guy met one of his idols, the legendary Muddy Waters. Waters was impressed with Guy's musical talent, and the pair would later work together. Guy became a frequent performer at the 708 Club, and was eventually discovered by composer Willie Dixon.
With assistance from fellow bluesman Magic Sam, Guy got signed to Cobra Records. A year later Cobra folded and Guy, along with labelmates Willie Dixon and Otis Rush, moved to Chess, where he recorded from 1960 to 1967.
Guy’s Chess sides never won the recognition that many in the Chess stable achieved, but he scored a hit with “Stone Crazy,” which went to Number Twelve on the R&B charts in 1962. Guy also served as an in-house guitarist, playing on sessions for Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Koko Taylor and others. His playing can be heard on Koko Taylor’s “Wang Dang Doodle” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor.”
Guy stayed with Chess until he left for Vanguard Records in the late 1960s, with a desire to produce credited music with more creative freedom. The final album that he released with Chess Records was also his debut solo album, I Left My Blues in San Francisco (1967). The following year, he released the album A Man and the Blues with Vanguard. Guy collaborated with harmonica expert Junior Wells for some of his most memorable pieces with Vanguard Records, including "Hoodoo Man Blues" and "Messin' With the Kid."
Although he continued to perform, Guy’s recording career stalled somewhat in the Eighties. His comeback began when he joined Eric Clapton onstage at London’s Royal Albert Hall during the guitarist’s multi-night run in 1990 and 1991. That exposure led to a new recording contract. Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues was the first of many albums on the Silvertone label and ignited a full-blown renaissance that made Guy the preeminent blues guitarist of the Nineties. This success was echoed with three Grammy Award-winning albums: Damn Right, I've Got the Blues (1991), Feels Like Rain (1993) and Slippin' In (1994).
Guy has continued to make music in the 21st century, working with such contemporary artists as Carlos Santana and John Mayer. In 2003, he released Blues Singer, an acoustic album featuring renditions of some of Guy's favorite songs, including Skip James covers and Son House covers. In 2005, Guy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Some of Guy's other awards and accolades include; Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, National Medal Award; and Billboard Music Century Award.
I love so many of Buddy's albums. The second blues album I every bought is his 1967 release Left My Blues In San Francisco. The passion and power of these inspired performances still hold up today. Another of my early favorites of Guy's A Man And The Blues from the Vanguard label.
I never have been a huge fan of Buddy's 70's releases and his 80s output was scarce. There is one tremendous exception - 1981's Stone Crazy album on Alligator Records. Originally released in 1979 in Europe and titled The Blues Giant, this album captures the wild and captivating power of Buddy Guy. Highly recommended and powerful stuff!
1991's Damn Right I Got The Blues kicked things wide open for Guy. His next two albums, Feels Like Rain and Slippin' In, are some of my favorite Guy Albums. I can't tell you how many hours I spent listening to Slippin' In!
Tom Hambridge, superstar blues producer, has worked with Buddy on his last five releases. All of them are strong but the first two,Skin Deep and Living Proof, are the strongest. Living Proof stands up with the best of Buddy's discography.
My Favorite Buddy Guy album is 2001's Sweet Tea. This is an earthy, hip and groundbreaking album. Buddy has this uncanny ability to sound right at home with his mentors like Muddy Waters or his contemporaries like Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Rolling Stones. On this album, Buddy achieves this powerful balance in spectacular fashion. It is down home Mississippi stomp music that a Led Zeppelin fan or hipster could groove to.
The Winner Is...
The Fans Pick is Stone Crazy