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Buchanan, Roy: My Babe

The list of guitarists who were approached to replace Brian Jones in the Rolling Stones after his untimely death, often feels longer than the list of those who weren’t. But in the case of blues master Roy Buchanan it is a genuinely true story and an opportunity he turned down to focus on his own band of the time, The Snake Stretchers. However, if this guitarist and singer had one true claim to fame, then it was the affect that his numerous albums of the 70s had on the likes of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. That renowned trio just three of many guitarists to site Buchanan and his early recordings as a direct influence.

First released in 1980, sadly, it’s difficult to suggest that My Babe lives up to that billing, one of the last records that Buchanan would release before he passed way in 1988 aged only 48, a less focused or fiery affair than much of the scene leader’s early work. That said the opening salvo of “You Gotta Let Me Know” is a mighty affair, a New Wave vibe bursting through a staccato pulse and memorable chorus. With the fret abuse matched by some gloriously OTT vocals from keyboard player Paul Jacobs, it’s a full on introduction to My Babe. And one which this album’s title track continues to boogie on into the night with. This time it’s a piano and organ combination that lays the foundations for this funky slice of honest rock and again Jacobs proves a stunning vocal foil for the stinging guitar work that you know will knock your socks off.

“It Should Have Been Me”, however (and which I only knew from the UK sitcom The Vicar Of Dibley…) is a more languid and loose slice of funky soul that never quite gets going, before the instrumental Doris Day cover (yes, Doris Day) “Secret Love” tries to tug at the heartstrings but ultimately loses its grip. A jibe at the band he turned down (and others), “Lack Of Funk” pokes fun at everything from the Stones to Punk while never really having much of its own to say, while “Dr. Rock & Roll” feels like it’s in need of its own adrenaline shot to truly bring it to life. Thankfully, however, “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” does find a fine line between funk, rock, soul and maybe even disco to become one of this album’s more memorable moments.

From there things tail off, “Blues For Gary” missing the vital spark that would have stopped it becoming just another blues-fret workout and “My Sonata” a short, slow, underwhelming farewell from an album that promised much but delivered little.

Running at the around the 40 minute mark, My Babe is also very much a product of its time, so to Angel Air’s credit they’ve also included an interview (that’s around the same length) from 1980 that Roy undertook to promote the album ��" although it does also contain three of the tracks already heard on My Babe itself. For a casual fan, it is an interesting, if ever so slightly self aggrandising listen, but not one I can imagine sitting through more than once. Although more committed Buchanan fans might find a little more interest.

My Babe certainly isn’t a bad album and its highlights undoubtedly soar and yet it has to be seen as one of the weaker moments in Roy Buchanan’s catalogue and, as it was also viewed at the time, something of a disappointment.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1. You Gotta Let Me Know
2. My Babe
3. It Should’ve Been Me
4. Secret Love
5. Lack Of Funk
6. Dr. Rock & Roll
7. Dizzy Miss Lizzy
8. Blues For Gary
9. My Sonata

Added: August 10th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: My Babe at Angel Air
Hits: 446
Language: english

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Buchanan, Roy: My Babe
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-08-16 20:24:13
My Score:

My Babe, the 1980 release from guitar legend Roy Buchanan, is overall a pretty laid back affair that dips into a few different styles during the course of its brief stay, from Van Morrison styled bluesy soul, to funk, ZZ Top inflected bluesy rock, as well as tasty jazzy pop, and while none of this might be considered top shelf Buchanan, his talents always seem to shine through. The gorgeous instrumental "Secret Love" shows off his sense of melody, while he rips with a funky mentality on "Lack of Funk". Good old fashioned rock 'n' roll can be heard on the groove laden track "Dr. Rock & Roll", while the aforementioned 'white soul' style is all over the title track and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy", Buchanan's slick chicken pickin' soaring over Paul Jacobs' Van Morrison inspired vocal delivery. The real treat here however is "Blues for Gary", a ripping, emotional instrumental that is all scorching Roy guitar on his trust Fender Telecaster...blistering blues from the master at his best.

As always, Angel Air provides a nice presentation here, which includes an info packed booklet and a 30 minute interview at the end of the CD with Buchanan himself, recorded in 1980 and used to promote the release of My Babe. While this might not be 'essential' Roy Buchanan, it does contain some solid material, and considering well before the decade was done he was gone, makes for a noteworthy addition to your music collection.

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