Buddy Guy – Stone Crazy

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Buddy Guy has to be one of the last of the legends, having performed and recorded with many of the old blues greats, such as Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Koko Tayler, and of course Muddy Waters. By the early ‘60s he had forged a reputation as one of the wildest electric guitarists around, whose style not only pre-dated but would also form an influence on a young and impressionable Jimi Hendrix, who’d later take aspects of Buddy’s style and readapt them to suit his own approach to the guitar just a few years later. However by the ‘70s the blues had fallen out of favour, which meant that many of the giants just weren’t selling the records like they used to, now that they had to compete with the likes of ABBA and the whole disco craze.

Recorded at Condorest Studios, Toulouse, France, on 31st October 1979, Stone Crazy is one of Buddy’s most accomplished performances and also one of his most intense. Behind him is Phil Guy, Buddy’s brother on guitar, J. W. Williams (bass) and Ray Allison (drums), each of whom manage to kick the tyres while Buddy himself lights the fires.

Things get off to pretty energetic start with “I Smell A Rat,” on which Buddy’s hyperactive histrionics are on full display, unleashing a series of manic licks that defy all logical reason. It’s only when he slows things down and begins to sing that one’s blood pressure levels drop, although the adrenalin kicks in again after the five minute mark, where Buddy plays like a man possessed. Things calm down on “Are You Losing Your Mind?”, although it still contains its fair share of erratic six-string outbursts, before breaking out with a riff reminiscent of “Foxy Lady” on “You’ve Been Gone Too Long,” on which Buddy flexes some serious instrumental muscle.

He lets loose on the Elmore James inspired “She’s Out There Somewhere”, and gives the band a break with “Outskirts Of Town,” a track during which they can sit in the pocket while Buddy explodes around them as only he can. Last song, “When I Left Home”, is a soulful piece, where one can hear in Buddy’s voice the expression of his ancestors. Here he is not merely playing music, but telling a story, while putting all the passion and energy one man can muster in a lifetime.

If you are a fan of Buddy Guy, or electric blues in general, then this obscure document is highly recommended. The man has won the admiration of everyone who’s ever heard him play, from B.B. King to Eric Clapton, and on this album, he proves himself as a master in his right. Although as if he needed to prove himself in the first place.