A critic's pick of 10 essential Buddy Guy recordings

June 20, 2013 

Need a reason to dig into the rocking blues music of Buddy Guy? How about 10?

Here is contributing music critic Walter Tunis' list of essential recordings released by the legendary guitarist/vocalist during the past five decades. All have helped define one of the most powerful and distinctive blues voices of our age.

1. Left My Blues in San Francisco (1967): After serving as Chess Records' top session guitarist, Guy cuts loose as a leader with a soul-heavy solo debut.

2. A Man & The Blues (1968): Here arguably is the finest entry from an underrated series of albums recorded during the late '60s for the folk-dominated Vanguard label.

3. This Is Buddy Guy! (1968): Borrowing from the energy of a still-vibrant British blues invasion, Guy pumps up the rock and soul on this scorching live recording.

4. Buddy Guy & Junior Wells Play the Blues (1972): This is an essential document of Guy's long-standing blues partnership with harpist/singer Wells.

5. Stone Crazy! (1981): The one-shot studio recording cut for Chicago's famed Alligator label was issued when Guy's commercial visibility was at low tide.

6. Damn Right, I've Got the Blues (1991): This record resuscitated Guy's career and introduced his electric blues muse to a new generation.

7. Feels Like Rain (1993): The first of several recordings to sport high-profile guests, this Grammy-winning effort remains one of Guy's strongest vocal works.

8. Sweet Tea (2001): This is an unexpected but wildly welcome journey into the hill country blues of Junior Kimbrough, Lowell Fulsom and T-Model Ford.

9. Blues Singer (2003): Similar in intent to Sweet Tea, Blues Singer offers a more expansive repertoire heavy on works by the recently deceased John Lee Hooker.

10. Live at Legends (2012): Here is a fine representation of the performance drive and wicked spontaneity the present-day Guy, sans the all-star guests, still has.

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