This is how I know that time is passing me by: I was talkin’ to The Wolf about going back into some old blues and soul to pick up what I’ve been missing and he threw me a video from a guy named Roy Buchanan. Dude’s got coarse, short curly hair and a beret. I totally wasn’t expecting much but, then again, this was The Wolf who was sharing with me so I gave it a college try.
What I found threw me off my feet.
- Album: Roy Buchanan
- Artist: Roy Buchanan
- Year Released: 1972
- Label: Polydor Records
- Type: Studio (Though, I don’t completely believe it).
Roy Buchanan on Spotify:
Looking back, I feel like I should just donate all the guitars I still own. Not knowing who Roy Buchanan was back then should have forced to make me turn in my guitar player card. Chcken picking and controlling wa-was with a tone knob? Simple genius.
While it’s 101-level knowledge in his circles that he hated recording for Polydor and never felt like he had control, the “Roy Buchanan” 1972 album is a tasty sampler album, with selections and styles terrifically mapped all over the place. Sometimes it’s country blues. Sometimes it’s 50s rockabellys. Sometimes it’s straight Chicago blues.
I’ll admit, it’s an odd choice to start off a sampler album. I know Sweet Dreams is a Don Gibson classic, but with the expedient thunder Buchanan belts on other tracks, the song is a soft slide intro, even with those etheral harmonics. His soothing tracks up and down the fretboard makes the tune sound a bit like surfer rock, to me.
Maybe there are parallels there for a reason, Finn. Something to think about.
Either way, Sweet Dreams sounds much better, to me, the second time around. Like, right now, the album just ended on Spotify, repeated back the beginning, again, now that I’ve already bathed in Buchanan’s music. The next song sounds more like the start of the album.
I Am a Lonesome Fugitive (aka “The Fugitive)
No hiding the country roots here. Going with Merle Haggard’s first top-ten hit, penned by the duo Liz & Casey Anderson.
I can hear Merle, as if he’s singing in the background. Buchanan’s elecrtified version allows a Texas-styled blues to lead in the song. Great choice.
Here comes that picking, quick as a Dixie hiccup. Great jump beat. Keeps the album up a notch.
Take a rest. Soak in the blues. Then, prepare to have your mind blown. Second straight instrumental, and Roy’s guitar takes everyone to church, then the club, then out into the street, then you won’t know how, but you’re waking up and walking the walk of shame back to church. Damn.
Country bluesed-up 50s rockabilly. A little humor and a lot of spirit, in all sorts of ways. Roy’s picking makes me wish for duck shoes and a classic diner with a black & white tiled floor to shimmy off those milkshake calories.
Haunted House was originally written by Bob Geddins, whose other gems include the standard Tin Pan Alley.
Note to self:
Find a formula that works and stick with it.
Well, we can’t be upbeat for too long. Pete’s Blues is one of those driving blues pieces. When the slide meets the hold. Some of my favorite guitar work on the album.
The Messiah Will Come Again
The music is incredible. Church organ and incredible soloing.
The lyrics are creepy. Not sure if to be afraid of the apocalypse or to afraid for Buchanan’s mortal soul. Maybe both.
Hey Good Lookin’
Why the Hell not end your 2nd First album with the Hank Williams staple?
Hank will always win with personality. Roy Buchanan – on the other hand – “Nancy,” and a good groove his hard to get away.
Then, because Spotify, the album starts back at the top and I’m ready to go through it again, and again.
It’s still hard to classify this album in a genre because it so brazenly crosses those elitist lines made by product marketers. It took a while, but humbuckling through this album has given me a better understanding that when someone says, “That’s in the Roy Buchanan style,” I know what they mean, somewhat: It’s a little of this, and a little of that. Stuff he seemed to like along the way, not something he packaged.