Buddy Guy – Born to Play Guitar (ALBUM REVIEW)


Like a fine wine, Buddy Guy cobuddyguy99ntinues to get better with age. As corny as that analogy is – it’s quite true today. The legendary Buddy Guy, who just recently turned 79 years old – has just released yet another album and added to his extensive catalog that dates back fifty or so years. Buddy himself loves his latest effort, which is supported by cast of very talented and well-known musicians. Musical guests include Van Morrison, Billy Gibbons and Joss Stone just to name a few. He’s joined once again by his right hand man, writer and producer Tom Hambridge – who is an accomplished artist himself. Guitar delivers a hefty fourteen tracks that showcase an array of Bluesy Rock and Roll that are worthy of a close listen.

Born To Play Guitar truly is a gem, boasting plenty of highlights that begin with the title track and it’s nothing short of a masterpiece – that if it was the only song offered, it might be all one needs to get a bit of Buddy and his history. In short, it’s a killer standard Blues track that is straight forward and solid. Guy’s seasoned voice and tasty licks on his ’57 Stratocaster would satisfy any and all fans of his music and the genre itself.

The album then kicks up some southwestern dust with the second track “Wear You Out” that feature’s ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. With it’s detuned, bluesy and ballsy intro – it’s no surprise that this song flat out rocks. Guy’s smooth vocals provide a brilliant foil to Gibbons’ gravelly growl. The innuendo and swagger that these two legends put into play make for a double-shot of down and dirty rock and roll. It wouldn’t be a surprise if both parties perform this one live during their respective tours.

The jump, jive and wail of “Too Late” with Kim Wilson (The Fabulous Thunderbirds) on harmonica is a surefire foot-stompin’ powder keg. Listen to the wonderful piano accents that add a little glitter to this shit kicker. Guitarist extraordinaire, Doyle Bramhall II – adds flair to “Whiskey Beer and Wine” that is a nice compliment to the track’s righteous groove which respectfully does not take any of the spotlights away from Guy’s vocals.

“Crying Out Of One Eye” is truly captivating. Guy’s voice is so genuine. The added musical textures put forth by Bramhall’s sultry guitar, Reese Wynans’ sublte work on the keys and the Muscle Shoals Horns make this track one to seek out if it’s not released as a single or performed live. Not to be overlooked, Joss Stone joins Guy for a smokin’ duet on “(Baby) You Got What It Takes”. Visions of poodle-dressed women and sharp-dressed men come to mind when listening to this beautifully crafted track. The string arrangements, courtesy of Chris Carmichael put the cherry on top of this timepiece. It’s just a flat out, fun track.

Check out “Smarter Than I Was”, which serves up a new kind of nasty. The Hambridge-penned track gives us the darkest five and a half minutes on the record. The triple threat of Guy along with Bob Britt’s resonator guitar and Rob McNelley’s colorful fretwork is hot and furious at times. The album ends with two tracks dedicated to close friends of Guy’s that have passed. “Flesh & Bone” and “Come Back Muddy”. Both tracks are lovely tributes, but it’s “Flesh” that will bring a tear to your eye. Van Morrison sings this duet with Guy and it’s especially moving. Longtime collaborator Tom Hambridge personally told Glide, “After I wrote “Flesh & Bone” about B.B., I reached out to Van to sing with Buddy and I’m so thankful for the way it turned out. It’s some of the deepest and most personal songs I’ve ever written for him about his life.”

This may be one of Guy’s most definitive albums in recent years. The collaborations are great, but it still boils down to Guy’s glorious voice, his delivery and his polka-dotted mistresses. Though it’s tough to beat the award-winning Skin Deep – give Born To Play Guitar a spin. You may just pick your axe back up and play along.


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2 Responses

  1. just listened for the first time and am stoked by how great this album is. Such passion at his age is astounding and illustrates his mastery of the genre. Every track is a delight and I will be playing it on repeat for some time to come.

  2. Always love to read Marc’s insightful reviews. This review is particularly good, giving the reader an all encompassing view of this album and even more so, an intriguing view of what makes Buddy Guy so amazing. As with Marc’s other reviews, e.g. Keb’ Mo’, the reader feels privileged to learn more about the artist thus invoking a feeling of understanding where the artist comes from and what his music means. Thank you, Marc.

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