Artist: Buddy Guy
Album: Born To Play Guitar
Label: RCA Records
Release Date: 07/31/2015
Recently I came across a statement that indicated, while rock n’ roll veterans do not age gracefully at all, veteran bluesmen do. Buddy’s Guy opening vocals on “I was born in Louisiana…” and his closing plea in “Come Back Muddy” provides strong evidence for that claim. This is Tom Hambridge’s fifth production effort for Buddy, and Hambridge has once again demonstrated a real knack for framing Guy’s vocals on this album, which was released on Guy’s 79th birthday.
While the album has mostly Hambridge or Hambridge-Guy co-penned tunes, there is a cover of Charles Brown’s “Too Late” that features harp ace Kim Wilson and “(Baby) You Got What it Takes” that has UK vocalist Joss Stone dueting with Guy. As you would expect, some high profile musicians like Doyle Bramhall II, Reese Wynans, Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top and even Hendrix alum Billy Cox appear on certain tracks. For the most part, this is straight ahead blues, bordering on blues-rock in places, highlighting Guy’s Stratocaster in compact solos.
Thematically, the album is filled with autobiographical lines that have signified, as much as anything else, the Hambridge-Guy partnership. And, while this doesn’t belong in the same category as Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues or Sweet Tea, it does have at least three tracks that should be very memorable: the title track, “Flesh and Bone”(dedicated to B.B .King and featuring both Van Morrison and The McCrary Sisters) and the closer, “Come Back Muddy.” In one line to that song, Guy says the blues haven’t been the same since Muddy left us. As he says in his 2012 memoir, When I Left Home, “They all told me that if they left here before I did, then everything was going to be on my shoulders. So as long as I’m here, I’m going to do whatever I can to keep it alive.” We should embrace his presence.
– Jim Hynes