Monday, 10 February 2014

“Play The Blues” by BUDDY GUY and JUNIOR WELLS. A Review Of Their Superb 1972 Album On Atlantic Records - with Eric Clapton, Dr. John and The J. Geils Band as Guests - Remastered On CD by Rhino.

Here is the link to Amazon UK to buy the right issue:

“...Come On Mama...Let Me Turn You On...”

“Plays The Blues” is the kind of Blues-Rock album that should be more famous - yet even with heavy-hitters like ERIC CLAPTON, Dr. JOHN and The J. GEILS BAND guesting - it has somehow slipped into an unfair obscurity. Time to rectify that... 

Reissued in May 1992 on Rhino R2 70299 (Barcode 081227029920) the CD is a straightforward transfer of the 10-track vinyl album first released August 1972 on both sides of the pond - 
Atlantic SD 33-364 (USA) and Atlantic K 40240 (UK) respectively. 

Excepting “This Old Fool” and “Honeydripper” which were put down in April 1972 in Boston - 
the other 8 tracks were recorded in October 1970 in the Criteria Studios in Florida (left in the can for two whole years). Co-produced by ERIC CLAPTON, AHMET ERTEGUN, TOM DOWD and MICHAEL CUSCUNA - the sessions also featured J. Geils on Guitar, Magic Dick on Harmonica and Seth Justman on Keyboards - all fellow Atlantic label mates in The J. Geils Band. 

Eric Clapton plays Rhythm and Bottleneck Guitar with Dr. John On Piano on 7 of the 10 tracks - 
“A Man Of Many Words” (a Buddy Guy original), “My Baby She Left Me (She Left Me A Mule To Rise)” (a Sonny Boy Williamson cover), “Come On In This House/Have Mercy Baby” 
(both Junior Wells originals), “T-Bone Shuffle” (a T-Bone Walker cover), “A Poor Man’s Plea” 
(a Junior Wells original), “Messin’ With The Kid” (a Mel London cover), “I Don’t Know” 
(a Willie Mabon cover) and “Bad Bad Whiskey” (a Thomas Davis cover). 

It opens strongly with “A Man Of Many Words” (lyrics from it title this review) and continues just so. Rory Gallagher (an axeman remembered with huge affection) opened his blistering “Live! In Europe” LP on Polydor from 1972 with “Messin’ With The Kid” and much of “Plays The Blues” has that same raucous having-us-a-good-time feel to each track (despite its two year tortured recording history). 
The great combo of two diverse guitar players and the alternating of lead vocals on each track gives the whole thing a freshness that screams off the tracks even now. Add in complimentary session players and you’re on a winner.  

“Plays The Blues” is a hugely enjoyable album - I wore out my UK pressing to the point of too-many-scratches - and it’s a blast to hear it sound so chipper on this lively JOE GASTWIRT remaster. 

Spend a skydiver on this one - worth every red penny and blue cent...

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