Buddy Guy has released a plethora of fine, and a few not so fine, albums in his very lengthy career. This new double CD set is, thankfully, one of the blues giant’s better albums and I would hazard to say it is Guy’s best studio release in these latter days of his venerable history.
The album is called Rhythm & Blues with one disc labelled Rhythm and the other Blues but there really is very little difference in the style, direction and sound of either disc.
But you can tell Hall of Famer Guy is not just going through the motions as he has done on a few of his lesser live sets. There is not one dud on the 21 tracks that makes up this two-CD package and Guy is in superb voice while his guitar work remains as fleet and incendiary as ever.
The cool thing with this new ambitious effort is the solid guest list Guy has helping out who might actually give him a hit in various genres of music.
Kid Rock lends his voice to a solid rocking take of the evergreen Messin’ With The Kid while Guy might score on the country charts with his superb duet (both vocal and guitar) with Keith Urban on the original, soulful country-blues One Day Away.
Meanwhile most of Aerosmith shows up to kick ass on the blues rock grinder Evil Twin but maybe the best collaboration comes with Texas hot shot Gary Clark Jr. (who is often mentioned in the same breath as Stevie Ray Vaughn and SRV’s hero Jimi Hendrix).
This youngster seems to really ignite Guy who plays crazy fast and furious on Blues Don’t Care as Guy proves to his acolyte who the real master of ceremonies remains.
The final guest is blues shouter Beth Hart who will evoke memories of Janis Joplin on her full-throated deep blues that also recalls a Stax style with the punctuating horns and organ keyboards.
However, my fave track is the haunting Whiskey Ghost, performed by Guy and his band, on the subject of sobriety and the gorilla that is always in the room for the afflicted—complete with snaky grooves and chilling guitar interplay with Rob McNelley.
Guy also proves that he has been keeping tabs on contemporary music as he humorously imitates a DJ scratcher with What’s Up With That Woman.
Fans will also want to know that a few of these songs are autobiographical where he name-drops one of his early bosses with Muddy Waters, while Guy recalls his impoverished youth on the evocative I Came Up Hard.
A superb double set of blues for fans and probably a shoe-in for a Grammy for best album.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the neo-soul combo known as Quadron that was getting great notices from critics and musical colleagues alike who appreciated their innovative approach to R&B and hip hop.
Similar accolades are pouring in for the somewhat like-minded Australian-based Hiatus Kaiyote who are being hailed and spun a lot in DJ circles while The Roots drummer ?uestlove and Erykah Badu are also big supporters.
Tawk Tomahawk is their debut album and only a taste of their unique hip hop and soul renderings. This is a short, 10-track album (although there is a ‘bonus’ cut) with only a half dozen fully realized songs, while there are four very short ambient experiments so that the disc clocks in at just 35 minutes.
The best and most conventional R&B track here is the straight up love song Nakamarra (the CD ‘bonus’ track has a rap add-on from Q-Tip) that serves as a lovely and mellow make-out song ripe for both jazz and adult alternative airwaves and websites.
The other fully fleshed tracks here are much more unconventional with what Hiatus Kaiyote refer to as “future soul” as they play around with ambient hip hop and abstract soul music.
The lead off tune Mobius Streak (sic) comes across as maybe new age, psychedelic soul especially with lyrics like “origami birds fly from my heart and burst out in colours.”
Meanwhile, the artsy Malika plays wind chimes off a meandering funky bass line while Lace Skull (a telling title) plays around with various tempos and swirling sonics.
My ears hear a touch of Bjork as well as Badu in lead singer Nai Palm’s voice but fans of left of the dial hip hop and experimental soul will want to check out this first offering although it seems like just a taste of things to come.