I have been a fan of Buddy Guy for a few years now and as I listened to more of his back catalogue I became more and more of a fan. Now in his 70s he has been surprisingly prolific of late with several albums in the last ten years and has showed no signs of dwindling talent neither his vocal ability or musicianship is in question, in fact far from it as much of his recent work is some of the best of his career. He has released 26 studio albums and the latest release "Living Proof" is the subject of this review.
As I mentioned this is Buddy Guy's 26th studio album, It was released in 2010 and is a kind of autobiographical piece with songs about his life and how he feels now he's into old age. The album contains collaborations with fellow Blues legend BB King on a song about their mutual respect for each other as musicians and men and their dealing with their old age whilst wanting to stay around a little longer as the track suggests and also a fine duet with Carlos Santana about The Blues and it's roots.
1.) 74 Years Young
This is an excellent opener, it's a toe tapper of a track and is about feeling good despite being 74. The track opens with some gentle slide guitar and Buddy's commanding vocal performance. The track has a lovely feel and a laid back nature with Buddy's expressive vocals shining he looks back on his life and the things he has done and achieved, then suddenly the drums become heavier and the guitar solo comes in with aplomb. Buddy really showing he's lost absolutely none of his guitar vigour with a sensational guitar solo.
2.) Thank Me Someday
This track comes in with a dark plodding drum beat and devilish guitar licks which pull you in. On the track Buddy sings about his early life and learning to play the guitar whilst his family would tell him to stop playing as they were trying to sleep. Buddy sings "you're gonna thank me someday" and I guess they did after his success. Buddy plays like it really matters here with some emotive and vibrant guitar playing which is truly quite superb, especially the way it progresses to all out attack.
3.) On The Road
You can see the influence here from the Producer Tom Hambridge as he also plays the drums on the record, there's an excellent drum intro which kicks things off here, Buddy's soaring guitar soon becomes the main attraction here with his slick vocals following closely behind. The track is about taking his partner on Tour with him. Again there's some excellent guitar licks and the overall musical feel is rather catchy and the overall package is another triumph. Another excellent track to open the album with. Some outstandingly fast paced guitar work comes towards the end of this track.
4.) Stay around a little longer
This is one of my personal favourites from Buddy Guy, It's a fabulous duet with BB King who sings and plays on the track. Both now in the twilight of their life yet sound as good as ever. This is a beatiful track about in which they both pay tribute to each other as musicians and as friends. This really is a heart warming track in which they sing about wanting to stay around a little longer as the title would suggest, they look back at the friends they've lost. This is a truly oustanding track which is completed when they let loose on the guitar to show they both still have that guitar talent in spades, particularly Buddy. Awesome.
5.) Key Don't Fit
This is a cautionary tale about your ex partner changing the locks to give you a hint. Buddy's vocals are excellent with great emotion as he confronts the woman about things. The guitar work is again superb and is highly emotive as usual, In this track you hear all kinds of guitar licks which really showcases his superb talent. This is one of four tracks on the album that are five minutes or over and you get the sense that not a second is wasted on any of them. Another excellent track with a fine live performance like outro.
6.) Living Proof
This is the title track from the album and is a catchy mid tempo Blues track in which Buddy waxes lyrical about how he came from humble surroundings to make something of himself through hard work. It's a track with a great message and although it doesn't have the same wild spark of the best tracks on the album it still shows what a great artist he is with some excellent vocals and guitar playing.
7.) Where the Blues begins
This is the track which features Carlos Santana, It's an excellent track which tells the story of where Blues Music comes from with the emotion and content of Blues music. Carlos Santana's guitar playing is excellent as usual and Buddy's only to happy to provide his own guitar magic too. I love the way the track progresses and the volume of the music gradually lowers until it fades out with the guitar solos. Excellent stuff.
8.) Too Soon
This is one of the Rockier moments on the album, It's an excellent and vibrant track which is about a bad end to a relationship and wanting to never see them again. I think many can relate to this track as Buddy sings "If I never see you again, baby you know it's much too soon". The guitar work here is superb as his extended solos are varied and extremely vibrant. Another really excellent track lyrically, vocally and of course musically.
9.) Everybody's Got To Go
This is an excellent ballad which opens gently with an expressive vocal, drum parts and echoey guitar. The track is about everyone having to die some time. The female backing vocals are excellent and the track soon leads into an emotive and gentle guitar solo which is typically superb. Again he looks back on those he has loved who died, knowing that someday his time will come. This is another excellent track from the album.
10.) Let the door knob Hit Ya
This is a catchy mid tempo track about a relationship gone wrong and telling them to go, The Music has a real Blues feel and theres some excellent piano and drums as well as the fine guitar from Buddy which is again extended and has several licks and tones to it. For me this isn't quite as good as the absolute best tracks on here but it's still a very fine track indeed. Another outro which has a live feel to it.
11.) Guess What
This is another fine track, The guitar reminds me a little of "Lyin like a Dog" on his Skin Deep album from 2008. This is the longest track on the album at five minutes and forty five seconds and is about finding out your partner has been cheated on you and confronting them about their cheating ways. There's some really excellent guitar work here as you would expect as he lets rip on the strings. I love the Bass Guitar part in this track which really underpins things and has a relentlessness about it. Excellent stuff.
This is the final track on the album and is another excellent track, It's a vibrant mid tempo Blues track with soaring guitar and catchy drums. This is the only instrumental track on the album and it has some great moments, as the drums pound along the guitar genius comes in with some sensational and varied playing. This is a worthy instrumental track which works so well and is a fine end to an extraordinary album from a 74 Year Old Master of Blues.
This is an album of mastery, Buddy Guy shows a remarkable level of guitar skill and vocal talent and considering that he was seventy four at the time of recording it is really all the more remarkable. This album contains Some of the best work of his career and shows that the great artists continuing improving and honing their craft throughout their career. If you are a Blues fan then give this album a serious listen and if you like it as much as me then you will be so glad you bought it. A superb album.