When you ask any of the great guitarist such as Clapton, Beck, Trower, Johnson, etc… who was an influence on them there is one name that appears on every list. That name is Buddy Guy. Guy has been one of the best electric blues guitarists on the planet for many years now but labored away in obscurity for a good portion of them thanks to the oppression of his first label Chess Records. Leonard Chess thought that his Chicago style was nothing more than "noise" and refused to release any solo recordings. Luckily not everyone thought that way and he finally is receiving his just due. Maybe it came a little late but as they say…better late than never and those words are never truer than in the case of Buddy Guy. He is an icon and this album with a most apt title is a magnificent example of why.
A storyteller and master musician, this is an unbeatable combination which is the core and soul of Buddy Guy. When he speaks you believe he has lived every scenario in his songs. Buddy doesn't need to write an autobiography, it is in his music. This is just the most recent chapter in a life that has seen much and probably did more! Get ready for a treat with Mr. Guy's look at his life today. He must be in a good place as this is one of the most dynamic discs and fierce blues guitar work that you are going to hear.
Buddy lets you know right away where he is at with the smoking opening song "74 Years Young". With guitar magic that will make any player envious he gives you a blues workout that defines the genre. They say the blues is the most personal style of music there is. When it comes to Buddy, this is very true. At this tender age he is still teaching the masses just what the blues is and how it is suppose to be done. As I listen to the song while writing this I cannot get over the fact that this guy is not just singing, he is stating fact! When he sings "I drank wine with kings and the Rolling Stones" it kind of puts it in perspective. He has lived a life we can only dream of and thankfully he gives us a chance to share in his adventures!
The charm of this album is in the realization that no matter what he does it is both fresh yet familiar in a good way. The power he has in those two hands and how he can turn the 8 bar blues into something like no other will testify to the fact that Buddy is not your ordinary bluesman. Just try not to tap your foot or drum your fingers during the song "Key Don't Fit". It is impossible. His mastery of the genre and the fretboard is like getting poked with a cattle prod. There is an electricity he provides that courses through you each time you put this CD on.
Sometimes funny, sometimes insightful, Guy takes on some of the situations we all have faced. Often there is a woman involved of course, she usually is not the type to take home to mother and many times it is a matter of if you can take all the bad with the good. "Key Don't Fit" falls into this category and so does the humorous "Too Soon" along with "Let The Door Knob Hit Ya". Evil women and the blues go together like peanut butter and jelly. Mr. Guy gives you a few tasty sandwiches to feast on for sure. The undercurrent that he gives these songs with his guitar is the teacher giving another lesson. This is how it is done folks. Short and sweet, it doesn't get any better than this when it comes to the blues. All you have to do is listen to the instrumental "Skanky" that closes this disc and all doubt will be gone.
Buddy has a little bit of help on this album. Carlos Santana stops by to add his personal touch to the very slick and smooth sounds of "Where The Blues Begin". With almost a Motown feel, these two are the perfect compliment to a fine wine and cigar.
Buddy also brings in longtime friend B. B. King. This pair gives you a terrific treat. With a touch of southern gospel, these two friends reminisce and sound like lifelong pals sitting on the porch and reflecting on their lives in words and music. This one will give a little tug on the heartstrings as it reminds me that these two are not going to be with us forever. At their current age I just hope that I get the chance to see the magic they produce before it's too late. It is a mission now to see them both in concert. It was always something I have meant to do but because they were touring so often I put it off. I hope I don't regret that decision.
To be blunt, if you don't enjoy this album you might as well be deaf. This is music not only for the ears it is for the soul. If more artists would put this much feeling and real life into their music the world would be a better place. It already is with Mr. Guy and this disc is "Living Proof".
1. 74 Years Young
2. Thank Me Someday
3. On The Road
4. Stay Around A Little Longer
5. Key Don't Fit
6. Living Proof
7. Where The Blues Begins
8. Too Soon
9. Everybody's Got To Go
10. Let The Door Knob Hit Ya
11. Guess What