Buddy Guy is probably, let’s face it, the greatest living electric guitar player besides B.B. King. Can you prove it with this double-disc set? About one-third of the time. Maybe one-third plus one-fifth of the time. The powers that be won’t let him get crazy nearly so much as Guy deserves, and the crazy serves him well. The horns and the up-tightness, not so well.
About the guest stars: I don’t like talking about Kid Rock, but he sounds like any other miscreant. Beth Hart sounds like someone you do not want to meet in a dark alley or even at Friday night bingo. Three-fifths of Aerosmith sound like good vibes and popped corks (I just wish for better lyrics). Keith Urban sounds warm and smooth, like peanut butter at a picnic. Gary Clark, Jr. sounds evenly matched, but maybe Buddy’s letting him win. The Muscle Shoals Horns sound beefy but busy.
Which leaves us with the crazy, or, as the younger generation intones it, the cray-cray. Either one a feeble term for what shows up better late than never, on “I Done Got Over It,” “Too Damn Bad” and a few precious others. That moment which sounds like the mind of that man in Walter Mosely’s The Man in My Basement, the white man who builds a dungeon for himself in a black man’s basement, flashing cash for the privilege, never explaining except to philosophize, insisting on his right to his own prison. That moment sounding like the man slamming himself against his own bars, ferocious and fearful and desperate, passionate in his bone-breaking frenzy.
The more moments like that, the better the Buddy.