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Buddy Guy - Bring 'Em In (Zomba Records)
Reviewed by Mr. K. Jan 2006


When you talk about bona fide Blues legends and I mean the real original gangsters (we sure ain’t talkin’ ‘bout Jeff Healey here ladies’n’gents!), sadly they’re referred to all too often in the past tense these days.

This year we lost RL Burnside, Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown and damn, even Fats Domino had a near miss down in New Orleans! So popping this cd into player brought a very warm glow to my heart (I promise it wasn't just the single malt I was cradling at the time!)…
 
69 years young and a recent inductee into the Rock'N'Roll Hall Of Fame, this album displays all the skills of a man still right at the tippity-top of his game. Opener 'Now You're Gone' is a lazy late night opener sung in a rich falsetto (not unlike the Rev. Al Green) and punctuated with Buddy's beautifully wailing lead guitar lines, which seem to sing a song all of their own. Next up 'Ninety Nine and One Half' is more strident and mid-tempo, again that goddamn guitar is singing right from the get-go and Buddy's back to singing in a more 'natural' raucous voice. When he hits that solo in the middle you'll never wanna pick up a guitar again brothers 'n' sistas. Yeah, the boy's that dang fly.
 
A lot of the songs seem to focus on the 'woman done me wrong' vibe, unusual for Blues songs eh? The knowledge of Buddy's recent divorce puts songs like the sloping 'Somebody’s Sleeping In My Bed' into real perspective. But here’s where things get a little tricky. A Blues legend can't release an album these days without the record company shoe-horning as many contemporary 'guest stars' as they can onto it. They did it with Hooker and they did it with BB, now poor Buddy's gotta go through a wrist-slashing salsa run through of Screamin' Jay's 'I Put A Spell On You' aided and abetted by one Carlos Santana. You kinda expect it to fly head long into 'Black Magic Woman' at every turn but thankfully it doesn't! It's actually cool to hear Buddy singing it because I've always thought he sounded like a more sedate Screamin’ Jay!
 
Sadly it doesn't end there... They wheel Tracy Chapman out for a mildly limp version of 'Ain't No Sunshine', saved only by the beautifully clean guitar lines. Ken Boothe reggaefied it in the 70's and did it best (yeah, even better than Bill Withers baby!), let's just leave it there shall we? Oh but it gets better… renowned U.S. white boy bluesman (ahem!) John Mayer gets in on the act for a sweet version of Otis Redding's ‘I’ve Got Dreams To Remember’… this one just about scrapes under the wire because it's such a beautiful song, someone as insipid as even John Mayer couldn’t fuck it up! Let’s just hit that fantastic button marked *SKIP* shall we for a foul version of Dylan's ‘Lay Lady Lay’ guest starring soulboy Anthony Hamilton and slide guru Robert Randolph.
 
So onto the home straight and Buddy’s back to doin’ what he do best, layin’ the down home blues on yo’ sorry white ass! 6 and a half minutes of slinky shuffle called ‘Cheaper To Keep Her/Blues In The Night’, another ode to his obviously dear-departed, she-done-took-all-ma-money, wife! Beautiful! My favourite track on the entire album comes late tho’, track 11, ‘Cut You Loose’… sample lyric, "The only time you're good to me baby is when I cash my cheque…" Now call me Mystic Meg but I have a feeling it's about the ex-wife again! Shit, by the sounds of it she sounds just like my ex-girlfriend! Angry vocals mixed with angry and way-too-vicious-for-an-old-age-pensioner guitar wailing! Someone asks you what the blues sounds like? You play 'em that. It’s a straight flush baby.

We're home 'n' dry right? Not quite, one more guest star! Satan preserve us! A doozee tho’, Keith 'I should be dead right now' Richards, for a mid-tempo album filler called 'The Price You Gotta Pay'. Seems the price we listeners have to pay is record company watering down but hey it’s worth it for those big fat golden nuggets like the closing track… hmm… jazz… nice… stone free grooves… ahhhh…’Do Your Thing’. Yeah Buddy, keep on doin’ yo’ thang.

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