Just got done with the final mixes for Kenny Neal’s latest album, ’’Hoodoo Moon.” The young man from Baton Rouge has done it again –lots of tasty bites of swampy Louisiana blues plus some nice rootsy R&B and plenty of that slashing, guitar and down home harp. ‘ Should be out just about the time you’re reading this.
Along with it will be another controversial Alligator…”Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues.” Corky was one of the first generation of bluesmen who reached a rock audience back in the ’60s, but he’s been experimenting with fusing blues and classical music since 1968. So what’s with ’’Chamber Blues?” Well, no, it’s not blues in any traditional sense, and it’s not supposed to be. What it is a brilliant fusion, of blues harp, piano and scales with the instrumentation of a classical string quartet (plus Indian hand drums). Sound weird and confusing? Well, it is, a bit, but it’s also subtle and emotionally rich and loads of fun. Give it a chance, won’t you?
Also this fall look for new releases from Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women, William Clarke, Carey Bell plus the hot new Tinsley Ellis blues/rocker, “Storm Warning,” which is already in all (superior) stores.
I’ve been promising to talk about Buddy Guy’s only solo release on Alligator, ’’Stone Crazy.” Since Buddy has finally received his much-deserved recognition with his 1990s albums, a lot of you have probably read interviews in which he claimed that he never before had complete artistic control in the studio and he went ten years without an offer from a label. What Buddy really meant to say is that he never had complete artistic control over any of his U.S. recordings and he never had an offer from a ’’major” U.S. label. I know a great bluesman when I hear one, and I made offers to Buddy periodically over his unsigned years, offering him the sidemen, producer and studio of his choice. What I couldn’t guarantee him (and what his present label has done so well) is that his record would appear in every store in the world, and that I could hire an expensive hotshot publicist and lure every rock guitarist in creation onto his album. So, I was never able to sign Buddy to Alligator. But back in the ’70s, when Buddy was touring Europe, regularly for a promoter named Didier Tricard, he got a chance to go into a studio in Paris and simply rip through a recording session with his own little road band and total artistic freedom. The result was called ’’The Blues Giant”, in Europe and released by us shortly after as “Stone Crazy,” which is certainly an appropriate description of Buddy’s wild performances on the album.
The thing I’ve always loved so much about Buddy is how he operates on the emotional edge, taking lots of chances both with his guitar and his wonderful, gospelly voice (a voice that he says he doesn’t like at all… go figure). On “Stone Crazy,” you can hear Buddy dancing right on the edge, making up the lyrics and the solos as he goes, just flying by the,seat of his pants. No effects boxes or outboard gear here, just the sound of the Guy guitar and voice pouring forth naturally, stretching and bending the tunes to’his will. Accompaniment is as simple as it gets: rhythm guitar, bass and drums. Wish I had produced it, or at least had been there when it was recorded. Rock radio programmers might not agree with me, but along with the best, of his Chess material and “A Man and the Blues,” I think ’’Stone Crazy” is among Buddy’s most exciting recordings ever, and undiluted by ’’special guests.”
Speaking of magical, off-the-cuff albums, Didier Tricard was also responsible for rolling the tape on Buddy and Junior’s ’’Alone and Acoustic” album at around the same time. This is the other side of two of the most- extroverted of bluesmen, quietly and subtly recalling their roots and influences and doing it just as the feeling hits them.
I’m so glad to see Buddy get all the attention he deserves (and maybe make some money, too). But don’t think it’s taken him until the ’90s to be his own man in the studio, and I’m proud to be able to bring some real Buddy to the public.