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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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The roll call of great Chicago bluesmen is not so much a list as an endless tapestry of artists whose influence dominates every aspect of modern music not least in terms of the rock genre. Just think of the names Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rodgers, Junior Wells, Howlin Wolf and a host of others and their impact is immeasurable. We are however blessed that arguably one of the greatest proponents of the genre and (with due respect to B B King) its most influential ever guitarist remains in our midst firing on gas and playing like a demon. Buddy Guy has been rightly called the bridge between blues and rock "n' roll and at the age of 77 still welds a polka dot guitar with such gusto that he makes Eddie Van Halen sound dull. This new double album "Rhythm and blues" is split into two sides with the first slighter funkier than the second but frankly the differences are minimal. The album is also laden with a heavy guest list not least Kid Rock, Keith Urban, Beth Hart, most of Aerosmith and the new blues sensation Gary Clark Jr. In fairness it is admirable that artists pay homage to such a great performer, although ever since Carlos Santana employed the guest open door policy on "Supernatural" it has perhaps become a formula that is a tad overworked? As a result the this album is very polished and subject to a big production but in execution some of the raucous charm to be found on his live performances are absent (this reviewer was lucky enough to head down the great man's Legends blues club in the South Loop Chicago before Christmas). That said this is an exceptionally solid Buddy Guy album and when firing on all cylinders he is untouchable. Seek out the brilliant "I could die happy" and its mix of acoustic and electric guitars positively fizzles with raw energy. Of all the collaborations on the album it is the funky horn driven "What you gonna do about me" with Beth Hart's almost Joplin like vocals to to the fore which works brilliantly and has a level of raunch that it almost obscene. Opener "Best in town" sees Guy's playing and singing as good as ever and the showy guitar licks are there in plentiful supply. It is noticeable when when Guy strips it all back he is often at his most effective. The haunting "Whisky Ghost" oozes with menacing atmospherics and is scintillating stuff. The slow pace of "All that makes me happy is the blues" is punctuated by solos so hot that Guy must have played this with asbestos gloves. It is a heart warming tribute to his great friend B B King and should be downloaded post haste. Equally "My mama loved me" is pure deep Chicago and again the guitar playing is stunning.

With 21 tracks spread over 80 minutes there are weaker moments and they are largely confined to the guest material. The version of Junior Wells "Messin with the Kid" suffers from the very strained vocals of Keith Rock who is no blues natural and perhaps the "welcome mat" should have been left inside the door. In any case Rory Gallagher's version remains unbeatable. Similarly the duet with Gary Clark Jr "Blues don't care" is standard blues template and in the singing stakes it is noteworthy that the 77 year old literally wipes the floor with the newcomer who seems so in awe of the great man it has affected his pitch. The Toxic Twins Joe Perry and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith at least sound like they are enjoying themselves on the slow blues of "Evil Town" and while you expect Tyler to break into "Dude looks like a lady" at any point they pull it off with sheer joie de vivre. Nevertheless it is on songs like the glorious "I came up hard" that we find an unencumbered Buddy Guy at his best. It has all that showy flash and bluster at his disposal and you are reminded of the comment of the later great Stevie Ray Vaughan on his playing when he once declared that" Buddy Guy plays from a place that I've never heard anyone play.". Check it out. The jumping blues of his cover of Willie Mabon's 1954 Chicago hit "Poison Ivy" sweeps you up in its enthusiasm and demands that club again on the Southside packed to its sweaty rafters and smelling of Southern fried food.

"Rhythm and Blues" has the odd weakness but thats because it is about the generosity of this great guitarist and his desire to play with musical all comers. Having recently reviewed the curates egg that is Gary Clark's "Blak and Blu" any blues connoisseur would be well advised to start at the source of the mighty blues river with this album and only then move onto one of its tributaries
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In the 60s when Buddy toured Britain as a part of blues package tours he was always the youngest bluesmen on the bill but he angered critics by including James Brown songs and other recent soul numbers in his act. He's kept this interest in current music throughout his career and his recent albums have been mainly in the rock blues idiom. However, when I saw him a couple of years ago at the Maryport Blues Festival he was absolutely wonderful one the best blues artists I've ever seen in nearly 50 years, he could go from subtle beautifully played thoughtful blues to flat out funk and rock - a true master.

This album leans towards rock with its glossy Tom Hambridge production and although Buddy could easily fill the double album on his own he shares several songs with high-profile guests including Kid Rock, Keith Urban, Gary Clark Jr. and Beth Hart, as well as Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford from Aerosmith. Buddy's trademark stinging guitar playing is still first rate and and his singing is still really powerful and the band back him superbly all the way, although I'm afraid that I found some of the songs a bit routine. Of the guest performances I really enjoyed Gary Clark on the rocking "Blues don't care" and Beth and Buddy really tear it up on "What you gonna do about me" and, surprisingly, country singer Keith Urban and Buddy come up with one the album's most subtle and successful tracks "One day away" but I'm afraid Kid Rock can't match Junior Wells' performance on "Messing with the kid". Elsewhere Buddy turns in fine performances on two odes to Chi Town - "Best in town" and "Meet me in Chicago", "Whiskey Ghost" is a nice 'haunting' blues, "I could die happy" is a rolling blues with a strange mixture of acoustic guitar and screaming electric and my favourite track was probably the reflective "All that makes me happy is the blues". I found this album as good as anything Buddy has done for years and a lot better than some.
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Buddy Guy, 77 years old, and what does he do , well he simply produces one of the best albums of his career and he's made over the years some incredibly good albums. This one (or should I say two discs) is a full blown pull all the stops out set of twenty one superb cuts. The band are as tight as they can be laying a solid foundation, with David Grisson playing guitar alongside him on many tracks plus some guests along the way to spice things up, including the stunning Beth Hart singing her heart out on 'What You Gonna Do About Me', I think her voice works better with Buddy's style of music than the colaberations with Joe Bonamassa and they are good (be great to see them do a whole album together, it would be quite something). Then we get Gary Clark Jr. joining him on 'Blues Don't Care', Gary is going to be a big big name in the blues, saw him on Eric Claptons tour this year he is amazing, and this cut really is as Buddy would say the real deal.
One track I thought wouldn't fit is the one with country star Keith Urban,'One Day Away', I was wrong its another outstanding track on an outstanding set. Then comes the rockers such as Steven Tyler,Joe Perry and Brad Whittford on 'Evil Twin', this shows just how close rock and blues can get with much more quality and depth than you get on most so called rock-blues albums.
One disc is rhythm the second disc blues, each disc would do well as solo albums but together this set has simply got to and will win buckets of awards when the annual blues ones come around. This is blues of the very highest quality, if your not as yet a fan of the blues, get this and enjoy what is simply a fantastic double album of Buddy Guy music and its music no one else gan play like he can. He's got more energy and ideas at 77 than most in thier twenties have. Big thank you to producer, co writer and band member Tom Hambridge for putting such an album together. THIS IS BY ANY STANDARDS AN ABSOLUTE MUST ! One of those where 5 stars just ain't enough by a long way !
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on 30 July 2013
I first came across Buddy Guy in the 1990's with the 'Feels Like Rain' album which I liked so much that I started collecting his stuff, thinking that sooner or later age would catch up with him or, at worst, he may not be with us much longer but it seems the older her gets, the younger he sounds!

The last album 'Living Proof' lived up to its title with some blistering lead guitar playing so I was really looking forward to this one, not least because Beth Hart and Joe Perry/Brad Whitford (plus a certain Mr Tyler) feature on some tracks. Double albums are not necessarily a good sign normally, but in reality the amount of music here is only slightly more than would fit on a single CD. The discs are split between a Blues album and a Rhythm album, the latter featuring slightly more swing in the backing and the mighty Muscle Shoals horn section on a couple of tracks, with the Blues disc being more 'rocky'.

The production is generally of a high standard, neatly avoiding the dreaded loudness wars. Buddy's guitar sounds suitably raw with his classy backing band clearly distinguished in the mix. Thanks to Amazon Autorip I was able to listen to the album on the way home, knowing that the CD was waiting for me and so far I've listened to it 4 times right through. A sign of a good album for me is that I want to listen to it all, not just the couple of tracks that stood out on first listen. The blues is supposedly a simple music form but there's an amazing variety on show here from the funky licks of 'Justifyin' to the haunting 'Whiskey Ghost' (no pun intended) to the bar-room blues of 'Never Gonna Change'.

There's more music left in Buddy yet if this album is anything to go by. In the meantime, buy it.
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on 12 June 2014
I was in Chicago for the Ryder Cup back in September 2012 and made a point of visiting Buddy Guy's Legends night club on the Monday afterwards. What a great place it is, not that big just nice and very friendly. The evening I went was an 'all comers' night with solo's bands and just how cool to experience this on my first visit to this great City.
The girl behind the bar said I may be lucky tonight as the great man himself could be in, if so he'll be sitting in the corner with a white flat cap, sure enough later on he was there and he was gracious enough to have a long chat with me the Englishman, signing his Autobiography for me.
I have just bought this album, haven't listened to disc two yet as one is on repeat and still going, absolutely fab! Looking forward to hearing the track with Gary Clark Jnr soon.
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on 25 April 2014
I'm a Buddy fan so bought this CD soon as it came out. I'm sorry i have to say i've got better stuff from Buddy, maybe i just like the old style better but thats not to say it isn't produced well.
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on 7 August 2013
What can go wrong, the legend plays and sings blues, genious. Saw him in 2003 and his playing has not faultered with age
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on 30 March 2014
As a blues fan of some 45 years I've been a fan of Buddy Guy a long time. He's always had his own style but for a long time had to play second fiddle to giants of the Chicago blues scene like Muddy Waters. He's continued to develop, learn and expand his sound all the while, now well into his 70s. Whilst not the world's greatest singer, his vocals are always honest and heartfelt and his lyrics truly drawn from life. His guitar sounds always captivate and excite and on this sensational double album he's attained new heights. With a terrific band and a production team that clearly understand the blues and Buddy's style, this collection makes spellbinding listening for any Chicago blues fan. Buddy can do what is in effect a romantic ballad but still make a blues...and he can also blister the paint with biting, swirling, caustic guitar on a rocker. The band is tight and swings throughout. "Rhythm" : watch out, Buddy's comin' at yer! - "Blues": it's for 3am and nestling a bourbon...
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on 14 March 2014
This is another very good release from Buddy Guy, and easily as good as Living Proof, Skin Deep and others. The split between Rhythm an Blues on the two CD's is somewhat artificial, and most tracks would be equally at home on either disc.
The guest appearances are of differing value; Kid Rock adds nothing on Messing With The Kid whereas Stephen Tyler's vocals on Evil Twin provide a distinctive and convincing counterpoint to Buddy's . One of the album's strengths is in the production which is full and punchy, and far better than on an album such as Sweet Tea. BG's singing and playing remain as strong as ever... all in all a very satisfying addition to his catalogue..
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on 17 February 2014
Saw Buddy on an episode of Later with Jools Holland and had to get some of his recordings. This particular album was one of his highest rated on Amazon so I was surprised it was his most recent considering his longevity in the industry and his age. It lived up to all the high ratings, musically excellent and very well recorded with many great songs on it.
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