Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy
Skin Deep

Silvertone Records

By Bill Copeland
February 2009

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Buddy Guy has unleashed his guitar on the world once again. Everything on his latest disc, Skin Deep moves forward like a souped- up Chevy. The 70-year- old Guy is still in top form vocally, and his guitar still has the power of a fire breathing dragon.

“Best Damn Fool” opens like a sledgehammer break at the pool table. Guy’s guitar explodes in every meter, while he boasts of his love skills in this rocking romp served up raw with organ swirls and a blaring horn section.

“Too Many Tears,” written by Guy’s drummer, Tom Hambridge, ups the ante with guest appearances from blues couple Derek Trucks on guitar and his wife Susan Tedeschi sharing the lead vocals. Here, Guy shines vocally by holding his own against the powerhouse chanteuse.

“Lyin’ Like A Dog” gives us plenty of Guy’s Gibson ES 335 Custom guitar work as he goes into a call-and-response with his accusatory lyrics about another mean mistreater, before turning up the heat with a growing intensity on his six string.

Only three songs into this record and I already feel like I heard a whole album because there is just so much Guy can do with his axe.

“Show Me The Money” offers more rocking blues Guy style, but he doesn’t do much more than just turn it up and let it rip. It does serve as a good intro to the next tune: “Every Time I Sing The Blues,” which features Eric Clapton on the six string - and that makes things very interesting. Clapton’s guitar lead hits its own peaks and valleys, and that makes this song go somewhere fun. Guy and Clapton divide vocal chores here, giving this piece extra dimension and texture.

“Out In The Woods” comes alive on the power of Guy’s incendiary guitar work, but the steel guitar magic of guest Robert Randolph and the accordion work from Nathan Williams make this much more than another Guy cranks-it-up-outing.

“Hammer And A Nail” finds Guy bridging the gap between playing a mean blues guitar and actually fashioning a classic blues song. Hambridge keeps this piece moving with a muscular backbeat while Guy shows tasteful restraint filling the spaces left up by the palpable rhythm section, which includes bass player Willie Weeks. Keyboardist Reese Wynans does his rocking best, too.

“That’s My Home” has an ironic (for a blues master) FM radio classic rock feel, even with Randolph back on his pedal steel, and Williams again helping out on accordion to create a swamp funk feel.

Title track “Skin Deep” makes for a nice slow dance number with a lot of soul in those ringing guitar tones. Its lyrics, though, are a weak attempt to make a statement about race relations, and here Guy shows he cannot write something on the level of “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

Guy’s attempt at meaningful lyrics gets him into trouble again on “Whose Gonna Fill Those Shoes,” a tribute to all the blues greats who came before Guy and who have already passed on to blues heaven. Guy screams out vocally and on guitar of his loving admiration for his heroes, but when he doesn’t come close to answering his own question with a mention of some current greats, he gives the impression that he sees himself as the heir apparent - and the whiff of ego lingers too long after the song ends.

“Smell The Funk” has a weird title. I’ve never found it wise to use the word “smell” in a song title, but this is a fun, funk number and thankfully there is no actual “smell” involved here.

Guy does end his powerhouse disc as only a guitar monster can, with “I Found Happiness,” a brilliant structure filled with both clever alluring guitar licks - a solid build up - and unpretentious lustful lyrics.

This entire disc has the full vibe of a live concert performance, and it shows that at age 70, Buddy Guy can still kick ass on guitar and at the vocal mike.


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