Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2005-12-13

2005-12-13

Buddy Guy & Junior Wells: Buddy Guy & Junior Wells Play the Blues (Rhino Handmade, 2005) The classic Guy-Wells album remains Delmark's 1966 Hoodoo Man Blues, which is credited to Wells. Runner-up is this relaxed, whiteboy-garnished 1972 set, now augmented with nine previously unissued new songs that fit the bill and four previously unissued alternate mixes that don't. Guy gets major vocal space, top-billed because in 1972 his expansive guitar chops had some racial optimist at Atlantic seeing stardom. He'll never be as distinctive a singer--Wells had a sound. But the older man gave Guy valuable laying back lessons, which he forgets to excellent effect whamming home Little Brother Montgomery's "First Time I Met the Blues." [Recyclables]

John Mayer: Try! (Aware/Columbia, 2005) See: New Wonderland.

T-Bone Walker: The Best of the Black & White and Imperial Years (Metro Blue, 2005) Basically, Walker invented electric blues guitar. Everybody from B.B. King on down gives him props. But because he came first, he was also transitional--his single-note solos have less brute color and sustain than those of jazz-hip King or rocking Elmore James, and he croons rather than shouts, perhaps a little too subtly. Or perhaps not. The seminal-by-acclamation Black & White sides are seriously outnumbered here by the Imperials, which feature sax sections. But his warm sound is so consistent that only the specialist audience will care. [Recyclables]

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