Buddy Guy - Living Proof (Jive, 2010) Legendary blues guitarist and singer Buddy Guy may proclaim that he is "74 Years Young" on the opening track of this album, but he plays and sings with the energy and verve of a man half his age. Guy can occasionally go overboard with the guitar pyrotechnics, but he harnesses all of the energy very well here, moving between slash and burn guitar blowouts like the coming of age tale "You'll Thank Me Someday" to the down and dirty concluding instrumental "Skanky." He solos with wild abandon, but also with the strength and restraint to keep things from getting out of control. There is a touching duet with fellow legend B.B. King on "Stay Around a Little Longer" where they sing and trade licks in a respectful manner. The band breaks out the funk on "Let the Door Knob Hit Ya" with some of Guy's finest singing on the album. His vocals her are focused and amazingly strong, drawing on a deep well of inner strength that helps to make this one of his finest albums of recent years.
Dave Specter - Spectified (Fret12 Productions, 2010) Blues guitarist Dave Specter dispenses with vocals entirely and produces a tasteful album of instrumentals that explore several facets of the blues. Some tracks have nice full backing from swirling organ and subtle horn shadings. "Stuck to the Hip" and "Soul Serenade" show this side of Specter's musicality quite well, with the organ providing a great foundation for the music, and subtle horns framing the guitar soloing. Grinding roadhouse blues is another aspect of the music, especially on "Octivate'n" and "Wash Out" that mine a dirtier and sweaty vibe, and the keyboards move back and forth between rippling barrellhouse piano, and groove organ. They make nice jazzy flourishes on the original "Blues Call" with some added percussion and nice atmospheric organ. Specter wraps things up with a raw acoustic solo, "Alley Walk Acoustic" taking the music out with a nice back porch feel. This album works really well, Specter shows off the many parts that make up his musical whole, and the band is first rate, making for a classy and dignified album.
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