The Chicago blues pioneer Buddy Guy is 77 now but he hasn’t been resting on his laurels. His 2011 record Living Proof won a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category, while last year he published a gritty, acclaimed autobiography, When I Left Home: My Story.
The mundanely titled Rhythm & Blues retains the Living Proof producer Tom Hambridge to mostly fine effect, but despite his expertise and Guy’s reliably sparky lead guitar work, 21 songs spread across two discs sometimes feels like overkill. Guy impresses most on Best In Town and I Go By Feel, songs with lyrics that tell of his travels and his philosophy, and on Whiskey Ghost, a wonderfully slinky affair that squeezes new mileage from the “hellhound on my trail” trope. Listening to the searing lead guitars on Justifyin’ you can also hear what Jimi Hendrix, one of Guy’s biggest fans, learnt from him.
Elsewhere, guests drop by with mixed results. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler gives his charismatic all on Evil Twin, but when Kid Rock shows up for Messin’ with the Kid, Buddy has to carry him.
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