Buddy Guy – The Blues Is Alive And Well (Silvertone/Sony)

At age 81, Buddy Guy is still playing the blues, sounding very much as vibrant now as he did 60 plus years ago when he was a young upstart at Chess Records.

Guy’s career started out as a sideman, playing guitar on sessions for all the greats…Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson. Then he struck out on his own and simultaneously, teamed up with harp player Junior Wells.

Now they are all gone…Buddy’s good friend B.B. King having passed away in 2015. That leaves Guy alone to continue the legacy of Chicago blues. And despite his advanced years, he is still playing with incredible energy and passion.

This latest album was co-written and produced by Tom Hambridge who performed similar duties on Guy’s past two album, with 2015’s Born To Play winning a Grammy for Best Blues Album. Also on board are Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck and James Bray…not that Buddy needs any help. All the guest contributions are fine, but ultimately unnecessary, as Buddy’s guitar playing is more than enough to keep any blues fans happy all on its own.

Not surprisingly, the subject matter of many of the songs here is mortality. Songs such as A Few Good Years, Somebody Up There, Blue No More and End Of The Line address the inevitable without sounding moribund or depressing.

For every slow, reflective blues such as You Did The Crime or A Few Good Years there are plenty of upbeat rollicking rockers such as Guilty As Charged and Old Fashioned.

Cognac is the track featuring Richards and Beck. Guy calls each of them out to solo, but really, all you need is Buddy. Meanwhile, Jagger blows his harp on You Did The Crime.

But this is Buddy Guy’s record and he and his band virtually sizzle on Muddy Waters’ Nine Below Zero, while Guy shows where Hendrix picked up a few of his tricks on Somebody Up There.

This is a blues album that sounds fresher, more alive, than it has every right to. Thanks to Buddy Guy, the blues is, indeed, alive and well. Let’s hope he stays that way for many years to come.

Marty Duda