Good blues is like a good sermon. It lifts you up when youre down, comforts you when youre hurting, heals you when youre in pain, tells you when youve done somebody wrong. And a good blues musician, like a good preacher, feeds off the energy of the audience, and returns it in the messagethe music. As a result, live recordings are almost always better than studio recordings.
Two recent recordings are a real treat, each highlighting a blues musician instrumental in moving the music from where they inherited it to a higher level: They learned from what they heard, added their own creative genius, and passed it on better than they found it.
The Real Deal, by Buddy Guy with G.E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live Band, is an affirmation of four decades of Guys work. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, now a longtime resident of Chicago, Guy is a major figure in the blues world.
Recorded live at his club, Legends, in Chicago in May 1994, the set ranges from "First Time I Met the Blues"Buddys first Chess single in 1964to a rousing finale of Willie Dixons "Let Me Love You Baby." For classic Buddy Guy guitar playing, the title song of his 1991 Grammy-winning recording, "Damn Right Ive Got the Blues," cant be beat. The recording also includes a slow, melodic love song, "Sweet Black Angel," and a rousing cover of Elmore James "Talk to Me Baby."
The nine songs are a well-chosen set that shows all of Guys stylings and moods. Its a taste of Guys lead guitar playingdescending chord progressions and soaring runs combined with his growling, shouting vocals. The live recording captures his interaction with the audienceGuy shouting "Ive got the blues, can I keep on going?" with an enthusiastic audience responding.