Friday, September 05, 2008

Buddy Guy and Junior Wells - Play the Blues (Atlantic, 1972)

Guitarist Buddy and harmonica ace Junior Wells had been collaborating since both moved to Chicago from the deep south in the 1950's. This album cemented their longstanding partnership. Equal parts deep blues and funky R&B, this disc plays well to both man's strength, with each splitting the solo spotlight and vocal duties. Things get funky right off the bat with Buddy taking the lead vocals on "Man of Many Words" strutting out over a nasty groove and spitting strong guitar licks. "Poor Man's Plea" takes Junior's vocals way down in the alley, and he adds some fine harp against a groove set by riffing horns. Wells bring it on a version of his oft-covered "Messin' With the Kid" and Buddy sneaks in a fleet solo as well. The come together very well for a swirling version of "This Old Fool" with a blasting guitar in interlude and a nasty harp riff in the background. "Bad Bad Whiskey" has an interesting acoustic back-porch feel, and they end things on a classy note with the instrumental "Honeydripper." This is a consistently fine and well done blues album, with a couple of of the finest musicians of Chicago's second generation of electric bluesmen showing their prowess in a pithy and restrained way.

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