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4 1/2 stars. One of Buddy Guy's finest
Docendo Discimus | Vita scholae | 02/21/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is Buddy Guy's first "real" LP, his first album made up entirely of previously unissued material. He has been recording for over a decade when "A Man & The Blues" came out, but mainly as a singles artist, and his previous long player, 1967's "I Left My Blues In San Francisco", was a collection of songs recorded over a two-year period.
Released on the Vanguard label, "A Man & The Blues" is rather a brief affair at just 38 minutes, but it is 38 minutes of Guy's finest material. Backed by men like pianist Otis Spann, bassist Jack Myers, dummer Fred Below, and saxists Donald Hankins, Aaron Corthen, and Bobby Fields, he lays down a tasteful and varied set of blues with a pinch of soul in it, from smouldering slow burners to swaggering R&B.
The title track is a slow blues anchored by Otis Spann's piano, and with some sizzling lead guitar fills by Guy himself. It's not his most original piece, but it is a good slow blues nevertheless, and it is followed by another original, the powerful up-tempo "Can't Quit The Blues". The saxes play a great, punchy riff, Spann's piano sizzles, and Guy lays down a really funky vocal.
Then comes a terrific cover of Berry Gordy's "Money (that's what I want)", a mournful take on Mercy Dee Walton's "One Room Country Shack", and one of the hardest hitters of the entire set as Guy blast through his version of the nursery rhyme "Mary Had A Little Lamb", guitar wailing, horns blasting and drums biting.
Guy nicks Keith Richard's riff from the then-recent Stones single "Satisfaction" for the funk-blues of "Just Playing My Axe", something I imagine Richards must've taken as a compliment, and gets off some vicious solos, before moving on to another cover, a slow "Sweet Little Angel" with a tortured, almost falsetto vocal.
"Worry Worry" is perhaps one slow blues too many for a nine-song set, but it is well executed, and the album winds down with am excellent, swaggering instrumental, the up-tempo "Jam On A Monday Morning". Great interplay between horns, guitars and piano, and a beat you can surely dance to!
If you aren't satisfied by the Chess compilation "Buddy's Blues", or Rhino's "The Very Best Of Buddy Guy", this is certainly one of the very first stops to make, along with albums like "I Left My Blues In San Francisco", "Damn Right, I've Got The Blues", "Slippin' In", and perhaps the recent "Skin Deep" and the lesser-known "DJ Play My Blues". And look for some of his collaborations with harpist Junior Wells as well.
Great band, great songs. Highly recommended."
Buddy at his best
Bowiebuff | SC | 09/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Far and away his best solo effort. Everything that people love about Buddy Guy is present on this album: smoking guitar (yet still pure blues--B.B. and T-Bone on steroids vintage Buddy,untainted by rock producers and multitudes of guest appearances), passionate vocals, and lots of personality. Some highlights are title track which is textbook slow blues, unimprovable! A hot blues blues version of "Money," and the classic take on "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Actually though, in all fairness to Buddy, every track here is classic blues!"