Buddy Guy Rhythm & Blues

Buddy GuyRhythm & Blues
Buddy Guy's 50-plus-year career has been a testament to a simple premise: playing 12-bar blues as loudly and wildly as possible. It's made him the genre's arch individualist, respected by all and imitated by none. Now, at 76, Guy and a handful of others, such as harmonica player James Cotton, are the last vestiges of Chicago's blues royalty. However, out of all those immortal names, Guy always seemed most comfortable mingling in the rock world, being closer in age to admirers such as Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. That openness served him well over the years — particularly the lean ones — and while it's also brought him loads of praise and awards, until Rhythm & Blues there hasn't been an album that truly represents the scope of his power for the current generation. Split into two discs ("Rhythm" and "Blues"), the album's slick but still raw production, courtesy of long-time collaborator Tom Hambridge, shows Guy in top form, commanding waves of jagged solos in between his often-underappreciated wailing vocal turns. The songs, on the whole, are tailored to Guy's jovial public persona, from "I Go By Feel" to "Meet Me In Chicago," which is sure to become the city's new anthem. A handful of guest stars — Keith Urban, Kid Rock, members of Aerosmith — are unnecessary, although the duets with Beth Hart and Gary Clark Jr. come off better in a passing-the-torch kind of way. But therein lies perhaps the album's only flaw: given Guy's stature, there's a strong sense that he and Hambridge wanted to make "the last great blues album," which they very well might have done. Perhaps if they had been less conscious of that, the songs could have delved deeper into Guy's soul. But, as it is, Rhythm & Blues is a late career milestone that backs up all of the accolades Guy has ever received. (RCA/Sony)