Bluesman Buddy Guy( Born July 30, 1936 in Lettsworth, Louisiana), has had a long and varied career. He originally got his start towards international recognition as a side man for Chess records and he then became a recording artist with that label. But Buddy Guy’s career didn’t really started to take off until he moved from Chess records to Vanguard records and he recorded what is considered his masterpiece, “A Man and the Blues” in 1968.
“A Man and the Blues” is a fully realized artistic statement by mature artist. Backed by a crackerjack backup band, that included Bobby Bland guitarist Wayne Bennett, master pianist Otis Spann, and Chicago Blues mainstay, Fred Below on drums, “A Man and the Blues.” delivers a one two punch of the Blues from start to finish.
The title track shows the strong influence of B.B. King on Buddy Guy’s guitar playing. Buddy asks on this song “What can a poor man do when the Blues keeps following him around?” In Buddy Guy’s case, the best remedy to the Blues is to play them as beautifully as he does here. There is not a note wasted and the tone of Buddy Guy’s Fender Stratocaster sets the standard for perfect Blues playing.
The sympathetic relationship between Buddy’s voice and guitar with pianist Otis Spann is breathtaking. The masterpiece on this album is Buddy’s version of the Mercy Dee Walton classic “One Room Country Shack.” Also of note is Buddy’s Blues version of the children’s song “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” “Mary Had a Little Lamb” has been covered to great effect by Texas Blues guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan. If you own only one Buddy Guy album this should be your selection.
My favorite three songs on this album:
1. One Room Country Shack
2. A Man and the Blues
3. Mary Had a Little Lamb
Review of the youtube videos:
1. “One Room Country Shack,” is a statement of profound loneliness and desolation. Otis Spann’s piano playing stays mainly in the bottom end of the register and compliments Buddy’s stellar guitar playing on this track. Of note to guitar players is Buddy Guy’s use of the technique known as “double stops” where Buddy switches from playing with a guitar pick to playing with his thumb and index finger in order to play two strings at once. All songs referenced in these youtube video links come directly from the “A Man and the Blues” album.
2. “ A Man and the Blues,” as stated in the review in this album, mines the fields of guitar playing established by B.B. King. However, whereas B.B. plays with a lot of tone and few notes, where Buddy Guy’s playing is far more busy and the tone of his guitar is somewhat thinner. This is also due to Buddy’s use of the Fender Stratocaster and B.B. King’s use of a Gibson hollow body guitar. Buddy Guy has given B.B. King credit for encouraging him to switch from playing with his fingers alone to using a guitar pick.
3. “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” is a true delight and shows off Buddy Guys ability to bend his guitar strings with a greater range than the average guitar player.