Roy Buchanan


Band members                              Related acts

  1972 line up:

- Rob Buchanan (RIP 1988)  -- vocals, guitar

- Ned Davis -- drums 

- Dick Heintze -- keyboards, backing vocals  

- Teddy Irwin -- rhythm guitar  

- Chuck Tilley -- vocals  

- Peter Van Allen -- bass

 

  1973 line up:

- Rob Buchanan (RIP 1988) -- vocals, guitar

- Ned Davis -- drums (one track)

- Dick Heintze -- keyboards, backing vocals 

- Teddy Irwin -- rhythm guitar 

- NEW Jerry Mercer -- drums (replaced Ned Davis)

- NEW Don Payne -- bass (replaced Pete Van Allen)

- Chuck Tilley -- vocals 

 

  1974 line up:

- Rob Buchanan (RIP 1988)-- vocals, guitar

- NEW John Harrison -- bass, backing vocals (replaced  Don Payne) 

- NEW Dick Heintze -- keyboards, backing vocals 

- NEW Robbie Magruder -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Jerry Mercer)

 

  1975-76 line up:

- Rob Buchanan (RIP 1988) -- vocals, guitar

- NEW Byrd Foster -- drums, vocals (replaced  Robbie Maguar) 

- John Harrison -- bass, backing vocals

- NEW Will Lee -- bass (1976)

- NEW Malcolm Lukens -- keyboards (replaced Dick Heintz) 

- NEW Robbie Magruder -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Jerry Mercer) 

- NEW Andy Newmark -- drums (1976)

- Billy Price -- vocals

 

  1977 line up:

- Rob Buchanan (RIP 1988) -- vocals, guitar

- Stanley Clarke -- bass, flute

- Steve Cropper -- lead, rhythm guitar

- Donald Duck Dunn -- bass

- David Garibaldi -- drums, percussion

- Ray Gomez -- rhythm guitar

- Jan Hammer -- keyboards

- Will Lee -- bass

- Malcolm Lukens -- keyboards

- Scott Musmanno -- vocals

- Dennis Parker --- bass

- Narada Michael Walden -- drums, percussion

 

  1978 line up:

- Rob Buchanan (RIP 1988) -- vocals, guitar

- NEW Ray Gomez -- guitar

- Andy Newmark -- drums

- NEW Willie Weeks -- bass

 

  1980 line up:

- Rob Buchanan (RIP 1988) -- vocals, guitar

- NEW Dan Burbeck -- drums, percussion 

- NEW Richard Crooks - drums, percussion 
- NEW Ron Foster -- drums 
- NEW Paul Jacobs -- vocals, keyboards 

- NEW Gordon Johnson -- bass 

  1985 line up:

- Roy Buchanan (RIP 1988) -- vocals, guitar

- NEW Larry Exum -- bass

- NEW Bill Heid -- keyboards

- NEW Morris Jennings -- drums

- NEW Chris Johnson -- rhythm guitar

 

1986 line up:

- Roy Buchanan (RIP 1988) -- vocals, guitar

- Larry Exum -- bass

- Morris Jennings - drums, percussion

- NEW  Donald Kinsey -- rhythm guitar

- Delbert McClinton -- vocals

- NEW Stan Szelest -- kyebaords

 

  1987 line up:

- Roy Buchanan -- vocals, guitar

- Larry Exum -- bass

- Morris Jennings -- drums

- NEW Donald Kinsey -- guitar

- NEW Kanika Kress -- vocals

- NEW John Sayles -- vocals

- NEW Stan Zelest --- keyboards

 

 

 

- The British Walkers

- Bobby Gregg and His Friends

- The Heartbeats

- Waw Keen Valley Boys

- The Snakestretchers

- The Soundmasters

 


 

Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Roy Buchanan

Company: Polydor

Catalog: PD 5033

Year: 1972

Country/State: Ozark, Arkansas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 3

Catalog ID: 4737 

Price: $15.00

 

In the wake of all the media hype surrounding Buchanan, his self-titled 1972 debut (actually credited to Ray Buchanan and the Snake Stretchers) came off as a major disappointment. Produced by Peter Siegel, "Roy Buchanan" featured a mixture of blues, gospel-influenced originals (his father had been a Pentecostal preacher) and popular county-influenced covers. As a writer, Buchanan originals such as "Pete's Blues", "Cajun" and "John's Blues" aptly showcased the artist's stinging Telecaster leads, but otherwise seldom caught fire. Elsewhere, judging by his lone vocal effort ("The Messiah Will Come Again"), Buchanan's singsong voice wasn't a match for his guitar. Unfortunately, lead vocalist Chuck Tilley wasn't much better, his anonymous voice leaving tracks such as a cover of Hank William's "Hey, Good Lookin'" and "I Am a Lonesome Fugitive" with a pleasant, if pedestrian country-rock feel. Simply too diverse to capture the guitarist's talent, the album proved a minor chart success, hitting # 107. (Prior to being signed by Polydor, the album was released on Buchanan's own Bioya label.)  Polydor also tapped the album for a pair of singles in the form of:

 

- 1972's  'Haunted House' b/w '' (Polydor catalog number 14149)

- 1972's 'Sweet Dream' b/w '' (Polydor catalog number 14178)

 

Courtesy of YouTube, here's a link to a series of 1985 performances on the German RockPalast television show':

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOptDDU3rOo

('Sweet Dreams')

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On5372UztI0

('The Messiah Will Come')


"Roy Buchanan" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Sweet Dreams (instrumental) (D. Gibson) - 3:33
2.) I Am a Lonesome Fugitive (Liz Anderson - Casey Anderson) - 3:43
3.) Cajun (instrumental) (Roy Buchanan) - 1:34
4.) John's Blues (Roy Buchanan) - 5:04

(side 2)

1.) Haunted House (R. Geddins) - 2:44
2.) Pete's Blues (instrumental) (Roy Buchanan) - 7:15
3.) The Messiah Will Come Again (Roy Buchanan) - 5:53
4.) Hey, Good Lookin' (Hank Williams) - 2:16

 

 

 

 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Second Album

Company: Polydor

Catalog: PD 5046

Year: 1973

Country/State: Ozark, Arkansas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 4738 

Price: $12.00

With Pete Sigel again producing, 1973's "Second Album" wasn't a major change in direction for Roy Buchanan, though to my ears the set had a more distinctive blues feel.  The focus was clearly on Buchanan's guitar, but his writing and ragged voice have always appealed to me.  While his blues moves were nice (many folks consider his "Five String Blues" to be an all time classic), to my, ears rockers such as the leadoff instrumental "Filthy Teddy", "Treat Her Right" (Chuck Tilley handling the vocals) and "I Won't Tell You No Lies" were the true standout performances.

 

"Second Album" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Filthy Teddy (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan) - 3:11

2.) After Hours (instrumental)  (A. Parrish - B. Feyne - R. Bruce) -6:13

3.) Five String Blues (Roy Buchanan) - 6:23

4.) Thank You Lord   (Roy Buchanan) - 2:23

 

(side 2)

1.) Treat Her Right   (Roy Head) - 2:43

2.) I Won't Tell You No Lies (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan) - 6:35

3.) Tribute To Elmore James (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan) - 3:25

4.) She Once Lived Here (instrumental)   (A. Inman) - 3:00

 

 

 

 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  That's What I Am Here For

Company: Polydor

Catalog: PD 6020

Year: 1974

Country/State: Ozark, Arkansas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut out notch along top edge; minor ring wear

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 4760 

Price: $12.00

Cost: $2.00

For some reason this Roy Buchanan outing gets middling reviews from folks.  I'm going to go out on a limb and tell you that those critics are wrong and that 1974's "That Is What I Am Here For" is one of Buchanan's better offerings.  Co-produced by Dennis Ferrante and Shelly Yakus, this set has two things going for it: 1.) Buchanan wrote most of the material (along with band members Billy Price and John Harrison), and 2.) it rocks like there's no tomorrow.  That's right, Buchanan's blues aspirations are largely sidelined in favor of some blazing straight ahead rock and roll.  Highlights to my ears include his stunning cover of 'Hey Joe' (dedicated to the late Jimi Hendrix), the Allman Brothers-styled 'Rodney's Song' (great storyline) and the heartbreaking 'Home Is Where I Lost Her'.  Certainly not your typical Buchanan release, but maybe that's part of the reason that I like this one so much. 

 

Courtesy of someone's YouTube posting, here's a link to a 1985 German television performance of 'Hey Joe'.  Simply killer performance - 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0pUl5f8wwA&feature=related

 

"That's What I Am Here For" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) My Baby Says She's Gonna Leave Me   (Roy Buchanan - Billy Price - John Harrison) - 

2.) Hey Joe   (Billy Cox) - 

3.) Home Is Where I Lost Her    (Roy Buchanan - John Harrison) - 

4.) Rodney's Song   (Roy Buchanan - Billy Price - John Harrison - Mike Kalina) - 

 

(side 2)

1.) That's What I Am Here For   (Jack Bond) - 

2.) Roy's Bluz   (Roy Buchanan) -

3.) Voices   (Dick Heintz) - 

4.) Please Don't Turn Me Around   (Roy Buchanan - Billy Price) -  

5.) Nepesh   (Roy Buchanan) - 

 

 


Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  In the Beginning

Company: Polydor

Catalog: PD 6035

Year: 1975

Country/State: Ozark, Arkansas

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: cut top right corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6068 

Price: $10.00

 

e - 

 

"In the Beginning" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Rescue Me   (C, Smith - ZR. Miner) - 3:22

2.) I'm a Ram   (M. Hodges - Al Greene) - 3:28

3.) In the Beginning   Roy Buchanan) - 2:22

4.) CC Ryder   (arranged by Roy Buchanan) - 6:03

 

(side 2)

1.) T

 

Ironically, In the Beginning (1974) was the final studio LP Roy Buchanan (guitar) cut during his four year (1970-1974) tenure on Polydor. While definitely mellower than his previous platter, That's What I Am Here For (1974), his fluid fretwork continues to capture and conjure a seemingly infinite number of moods and textures. Remaining at the center is Buchanan's respect of authentic R&B. His hearty solos are the unquestionable highlights on an effort that would perhaps otherwise be considered simply mediocre. The backing combo includes a core trio of Neil Larsen (keyboards), Kenny Tibbetts (bass), and Bill Stewart (drums), as well as a healthy sampling of the Tower of Power horns. Even with the intensity Buchanan brings to the cover of "Rescue Me" which had been a hit for Fontella Bass in 1965 there is a not only a discernible disconnect between the guitarist and his instrumental support, but also with vocalist Billy Sheffield. Purportedly, in a move instigated by the record company to sell more "product," Buchanan was to incorporate a lead singer. Ed Freeman (producer) incongruously attempted to incorporate Sheffield's unaffected shouting style to decidedly mixed results. More satisfying is the slinky Memphis soul of Al Green's "I'm a Ram" and the laid-back "C.C. Ryder," which commences with a lolloping lick reminiscent of Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry." "Country Preacher" is recommended as it takes Cannonball Adderley's signature tune to a new strata during Buchanan's solos that make the strings alternately cry and sing with unfettered passion. Another zenith is the Nick Gravenites and Michael Bloomfield composition, "You're Killing My Love," which retains a great deal of the Muscle Shoals vibe on the Otis Rush original. Buchanan spins pure honey on the dark adaptation of "Wayfaring Stranger" titled "Wayfairing Pilgrim." His uncanny ability to conjure almost inconceivably disparate emotions within just a few bars of each other is one definite reason that he is in a league unto himself. Potential enthusiasts should note that this material would be issued in Europe as Rescue Me (1975).


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Live Stock

Company: Polydor

Catalog: PD 6048

Year: 1975

Country/State: Ozark, Arkansas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring and edge wear

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 4755

Price: $10.00

 

Released after Roy Buchanan had parted ways with longtime record label Polydor, 1975's  "Live Stock" captured the guitarist and his backing band at a November 1974 performance at New York's Town Hall.  Buchanan and the band were captured playing before an enthusiastic crowd and sounded exceptionally comfortable; like they were having a great time.  As such it stands as one of my favorite Buchanan sets.  Sure, Billy Price wasn't the world's greatest singer, but here he was in pretty good form, turning in spirited performances on tracks such as the lead off rocker 'Reelin' and Rockin'' and the breezy 'Can I Change My Mind'.  Course, I've always wondered why Buchanan didn't handle more of the vocal chores - that's him on 'Roy's Bluz' and 'I'm Evil' and he's just as good as Price.  Regardless, the band's laidback enthusiasm more than compensated for those vocal limitations. Anyhow, you're buying this album for the guitar work and there's plenty to check out - 'Roy's Bluz', 'Can I Change My Mind' and 'I'm a Ram' all exhibit Buchanan's astonishing talents.  Buchanan is one of the few acts I wish I'd been able to see live ...    

 

"Live Stock" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Reelin' and Rockin'   (Roy Milton) - 2:26   rating: ** stars

To be honest the opener 'Reelin' and Rockin' was kind of pedestrian; almost perfunctory and dull.  Yeah, you got a tast of Buchanan's speed of sound moves, but the song just wasn't particularly engrossing. 

2.) Hot Cha (instrumental)   (Willie Woods) - 4:21     rating: **** stars

Sporting a tasty Stax-feel, the instrumental 'Hot Cha' was a far superior performance. Not only did Buchanan get a chance at the spotlight, but Malcolm Lukens got a little face time with some nice Hammond B3 moves.  

3.) Further On Up the Road    (Bob Mack) - 3:39     rating: *** stars

I'm usually not a big straight-ahead blues fan, but Buchanan and company turned in a nice performance on 'Further On Up the Road'.  It was also one of singer Billy Price's best performances.

4.) Roy's Bluz   (Roy Buchanan) - 8:10     rating: **** stars

I've always wondered why Buchanan was so reluctant to handle lead vocals.  Okay, he may not have had the best voice you've ever heard, but judging by 'Roy's Bluz' he was easily as good as Price, bringing a nice sense of melancholy to this stark blues number (initially just Buchanan on electric guitar).  And when he finally cuts lose on that Stratocaster, all hell breaks loose.  

 

(side 2)

1.) Can I Change My Mind   (Carl Despenza - Barry George Wolfolk) - 6:39     rating: **** stars

Their  cover of the old Tyrone Davis hit 'Can I Change My Mind' was given a breezy, highly commercial blue-eyed soul arrangement.  A perfect tune to go shagging to and one of the album's highlights.  

2.) I'm a Ram   (Al Green - Mabon Hodges) - 4:24     rating: **** stars

Geez, I wonder how many bands have covered Al Green's 'I'm a Ram' ...  Not that it matters since this grizzled version was one of the best.  A great tune for anyone who doubted Buchanan could play it funky !!! 

3.) I'm Evil   (Roy Buchanan) - 6:01   rating: ** stars

Technically the bluesy 'I'm Evil' was the second Buchanan vocal performance, though this time around he more-or-less spoke the lyrics.  This was probably one of those performances that was better had you been there in person with a couple of cold beers.    

 

Always smile when I see the album cover.  Wonder who brought the store's attention to Buchanan ?  Nice of him to thank the Australian proprietor and his family.    

 

 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  A Street Called Straight

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: SD 18170

Year: 1976

Country/State: Ozark, Arkansas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4739 

Price: $10.00

 

 

Signing with Atlantic, "A Street Called Straight" teamed Buchanan with superstar producer Arif Mardin. Recorded in Atlanta the resulting collection certainly started with a bang; Buchanan's 'Running Out' and 'Man On the Floor' standing as some of his toughest slices of conventional guitar rock. Interestingly, long known as a shy vocalist content to use hired help, Mardin somehow convinced Buchanan to handle a disproportionate number of lead vocals. While his dry vocal style may not be to everyone's liking, hearing these performances its hard to understand why Buchanan was reluctant to sing (check out Buchanan's own disclaimer on the track 'Caruso').   Elsewhere, there's plenty of tasty telecaster and acoustic guitar chops on display. Unfortunately, the set wasn't particularly focused, tracks such as the instrumental 'Keep What You Got' exhibiting an annoying disco-tinge.  Elsewhere one of the highlights was a remake of Buchanan's 1972's 'The Messiah Will Come Again'.  Atlantic also tapped the album for a single:

 

- 1976's 'Keep What You Got' b/w 'Caruso' (Atlantic catalog number 45-3342)

"A Street Called Straight" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Running Out (Roy Buchanan - John Harrison) - 2:38
2.) Keep What You Got (instrumental) (Roy Buchanan - Joe Mardin) - 3:15
3.) Man On the Floor (Roy Buchanan) - 3:22
4.) Good God Have Mercy (Billy Roberts) - 4:05
5.) Okay (Roy Buchanan) - 2:32
6.) Caruso (Roy Buchanan) - 3:22

(side 2)

1.) My Friend Jeff (instrumental) (Roy Buchanan) - 3:38
2.) If Six was Nine (JImi Hendrix) - 3:55
3.) Guitar Cadenza (Roy Buchanan) -3:50
4.) The Messiah Will Come Again (instrumental) (Roy Buchanan) 4:04

 

 


11.) I Still Think About Ida Mae (Roy Buchanan) - 3:38


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Loading Zone

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: SD 19138

Year: 1977

Country/State: Ozark, Arkansas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 3544 

Price: $15.00

 

As you can see, I have a large swatch of Roy Buchanan's recording catalog in my collection.  He was an amazing player who deserved far wider recognition than he achieved.  Anyhow, I won't go as far as claiming 1977's "Loading Zone" was Buchanan's best album, but I will tell you it's one of his most satisfying and enjoyable collections.  As he'd done for Buchanan's Atlantic debut "A Street Called Straight", the original plans were for Buchanan's follow-on collection to also be produced by Dowd.  When schedules couldn't be coordinated, in an interesting move,  jazz bassist Stanley Clarke was brought in for the assignment.  If nothing else, it made for an interesting pairing of talents.  Musically the collection wasn't a major departure from Buchanan's earlier releases.  Exemplified by tracks like 'Ramon's Blues' (featuring Cropper on second lead guitar) Buchanan's heart remained firmly entrenched in the blues.  At the same time he was comfortable playing in other genres.  A duet with Clarke, 'Adventures of Brer Rabbit and Tar Baby' offered up a country/bluegrass feel, while 'Hidden' sounded like an earlier Mark Knopfler soundtrack piece.  Best of the lot were Buchanan's cover of Clarke's 'The Heat of Battle' and a stunning remake of Booker T. & the MG's 'Green Onions' (Buchanan and Steve Cropper trading off licks - Donald Dunn hammering away on bass).   The album also boasted one of the year's most impressive casts of sidemen.  In addition to Clarke, Steve Cropper, Donald Dunn, Jan Hammer, Will Lee, Narada Michael Walden, and Tower of Power drummer David Garibaldi all made appearances.  The down side was that Buchanan's tight road band was completely absent from the session.

 

In case anyone cares, the album cover was shot inside New York City's Pete's Tavern (the city's oldest bar).

"A Street Called Straight" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Heat of the Battle (instrumental)   (Stanley Clarke) - 5:00   rating: **** stars

I always thought having jazz bassist Stanley Clarke produce this album was an interesting pairing and the results were underscored by the blazing opener ...   The epic 'The Heat of the Battle' was simply one of the most tuneful things Buchanan ever recorded.  For some reason this one always reminded me of an early Allman Brothers tune - the melody is just so strong and attractive.

2.) Hidden (instrumental)    (Roy Buchanan) - 3:24   rating: *** stars

'Hidden' was a pretty ballad that would not have sounded out of place on one of Mark Knopfler's early soundtrack albums ("Local Hero" comes to mind), though the heavy orchestration distracted a bit from the core tune.

3.) The Circle   (Roy Buchanan - Ron Foster - Scott Musmanno) - 2:55   rating: *** star

Showcasing Scott Musmanno on vocals, 'The Circle' was one of two vocal performancesl on the album.  decent rocker, though I can't say I was in love with Musmanno's slightly understated vocals.   The female backing singers actually kicked his butt.   I guess because it was a vocal performance, Atlantic tapped this one as a single:

- 1977's 'The Circle' b/w 'Green Onions' (Atlantic catalog number 3414)

4.) Adventures of Brer Rabbit and Tar Baby (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan) - 2:35   rating: **** stars

Just Buchanan and Clarke ...  but the country-tinged results were stunning.  If you doubted a bass could serve as lead instrument, then you'll want to check this one out.

5.) Ramon's Blues (instrumental)    (Roy Buchanan) - 7:07  rating: **** stars

Electric blues for people who don't like electric blues.  Buchanan's screaming Telecaster was featured on the first and third solos.  Steve Cropper on the second solo.  Stunning and one of the album highlights.

(side 2)

1.) Green Onions (instrumental)    (Booker T. Jones - Steve Cropper - Lewis Steinberg - Al Jackson) - 8:04   rating: ***** stars

'Green Onion' covers are a dime a dozen, but when you get Buchanan, Steve Cropper and Donald Dunn trading off licks, well that kicks it to another level.  This time around Cropper takes the first and third solos, while Buchanan is featured on the second and fourth.  Dazzling and simply too short even though it clocked in at over eight minutes.   Taken from a performance on the German Rockpalast television show, there's no Cropper, or Dunn, but this clip's still worth checking out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYCTcc_JuDE  

2.) Judy (instrumental)   (Narada Michael Walden) - 4:10   rating: *** stars

The pretty ballad 'Judy' was one of two tunes penned by keyboardist Narada Michael Walden.  Perhaps just coincidence, buy Buchanan's wife was names Judy.  

3.) Done Your Daddy Dirty (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan)  - 4:15  rating: **** stars

I've always had a sweet spot for Buchanan's slide work and 'Done Your Daddy Dirty' was an awesome example of the man showing off his rock roots.

4.) Your Love  (Narada Michael Walden)  - 3:58   rating: *** stars

The album's most commercial offering, the sweet ballad 'Your Love' was interesting for showcasing one of Buchanan's rare vocals.  Okay, he wasn't blessed with one of rock's great voices, but I've always thought he was far better than given credit for.  There was a true Americana vibe in his performances.  Admittedly ,'Your Love' was a bit over-the-top in sentimentality, but the song had a wonderful melody.

 

 

 

 

 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  You're Not Alone

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: SD 19170

Year: 1978

Country/State: Ozark, Arkansas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear on back cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1523

Price: $15.00

Cost: $66.00

 

The combination of Roy Buchanan's talent and Atlantic's recording and marketing skills should have made the guitarist a superstar.  Naturally it didn't happen.

 

Produced by Raymond Silva, 1978's "You're Not Alone" found Buchanan trying to find an approach that balanced his blues roots with a more commercial sound.  Apparently inspired by the country's sudden fascination with all things having to do with space, Buchanan didn't hesitate to hop aboard the cultural bandwagon - check out the cover art and the atmospheric opener 'The Opening ... Miles from Earth'.  Unfortunately, the results were kind of hit or miss.  Buchanan was simply too talented to turn in a completely throwaway effort and his dynamic fretwork managed to save tracks such as 'Fly ... Night Bird' , '1841 Shuffle' and 'Supernova'.   On the downside, this may have been one of his least inspired backing bands.  The LP wasn't helped along by the inconsistent song selection.  A mix of originals and popular covers, there really wasn't a need for Buchanan to cover Joe Walsh's 'Turn To Stone', or Neil Young's 'Down By the River' - vocalist Gary St. Clair's shrill performance on the latter didn't do much for us.  Even more irritating were the constant spacey synthesizers squawks and squeaks ... the title track actually sounded like something off of a Pink Floyd soundtrack !!!   Atlantic also pulled a single from the LP: 'Down By The River' b/w 'Supernova" (Atlantic catalog number 45-3489).  Not exactly his creative zenith.

 

"You're Not Alone" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) The Opening ... Miles from Earth (instrumental)   (Roussel) - 2:01

2.) Turn To Stone (instrumental)   (Trebant - Joe Walsh) - 5:48

3.) Fly ... Night Bird (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan - Andrew Newmark - Roussel - Raymond Silva - Willie Weeks) - 7:46

4.) 1841 Shuffle (instrumental)  (Roy Buchanan - Andrew Newmark - Roussel - Raymond Silva - Willie Weeks) - 4:22

 

(side 2)

1.) Done By the River   (Neil Young) - 8:41

2.) Supernova (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan) - 3:26

3.) You're Not Alone (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan - Andrew Newmark - Roussel - Raymond Silva - Willie Weeks) - 8:01

 

 

 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  My Babe

Company: Waterhouse

Catalog: WH #12

Year: 1980

Country/State: Ozark, Arkansas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD5378

Price: SOLD $15.00

 

This album leaves me thoroughly perplexed.  It's certainly not Roy Buchanan's crowning creative achievement.  In fact after the album was released Buchanan swore he'd never go back into a studio unless he had full control of the proceedings (a promise he kept for five years).  At the same time the album's largely unknown, with many Buchanan websites failing to even acknowledge it's existence, or if they do, spending little time or effort on it.  Try finding a review - there's apparently only one on the entire web - repeated time after rime (and it's extremely brief and non-descriptive).  So, here's my inane stab at it ... 

Released by the small Minneapolis-based Waterhouse label, 1980's self-produced "My Babe" showcased an artist thoroughly confused with respect to musical direction.  Clearly interested in finding a commercial audience this time out Buchanan seemed to have mistakenly decided the market wanted to hear boogies-and-blues.  Unfortunately with the exception of the instrumental 'Secret Love' (which sounded like it might have been inspired by Mark Knopfler's "Local hero" soundtrack) and a pair of Buchanan originals that were tucked away at the end of side two the album didn't have a great deal going for it.  Tracks like the opener 'You Gotta Le Me Know', 'Lack Of Junk' and 'Dr. Rock & Roll' were commercial in an anonymous AOR vein, but to anyone familiar with his earlier catalog came off as little more than 'going-through-the-motions' efforts.  Adding to the problem new lead singer Paul Jacobs proved a major irritation.  Imagine Elvin Bishop's Mickey Thomas on a sugar high, or a third-rate Lonesome David Peverett (of Foghat fame) and you'll get a notion of what he sounded like.  Even with his limited voice Buchanan would have been better off had he decided to handle the vocals himself.  Finally, with the exception of the above mentioned tracks even Buchanan's solo's were largely forgettable. Technically his fretwork was fine (I should be able to do something as good as the title track), but by and large Buchanan seemed to be playing without much enthusiasm, or spirit.

"My Babe" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) You Gotta Let Me Know   (Paul Jacobs) - 4:55

2.) My Babe   (Little Walter) - 4:40

3.) It Should've Been Me   (Norman Whitfield) - 4:08

4.) Secret Love (instrumental)  (Sammy Fain - Paul Francis Wester) - 3:37

5.) Lack Of Junk   (Paul Jacobs) - 3:24

 

(side 2)

1.) Dr. Rock & Roll   (Gary Sinclair) - 3:11

2.) Dizzy Miss Lizzy   (Larry Williams) - 3:38

3.) Blues For Gary (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan) - 8:32

4.) My Sonata (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan) - 2:50   

 

For Buchanan fanatics Waterhouse released a four track radio station promotional LP - It contains a 20 minute interview and included 4 songs from the album: 'My Babe', 'Lack Of Funk', 'Secret Love', and 'Dr Rock And Roll'.  There are a surprising number of these floating around, but expect to pay $40 - $50 for a copy in good shape.

 

 

 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  When a Guitar Plays the Blues

Company: Alligator

Catalog: AL-4741

Year: 1985

Country/State: Ozark, Arkansas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor crease along bottom front

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5318

Price: $15.00

 

Frustrated and simply burnt out by his stint with Atlantic and the small Waterhouse label, throughout the early 1980s Buchanan effectively retired from recording.  That period of inactivity ended in 1985 when he signed with Bruce Iglauer's Chicago-based Alligator Records.  Guaranteed complete artistic control over his recording as part of his contract, 1985's self-produced and arranged "When a Guitar Plays The Blues" was a nice comeback.  While Buchanan may have added a few gray hairs during his layoff, the album made it clear he remained one of music's best, if least known guitarists.  Curiously the record was widely described as being Buchanan's first true blues effort.  Hum ... I'd beg to disagree.  Sure material like the title track and 'Why Don't You Want Me?' (showcasing singer Gloria Hardiman) reflected a distinctive blues feel, but that description was way too limiting and did Buchanan a major disservice.  Original tracks like the blazing instrumentals 'Chicago Smokeshop' and 'Short Fuse' were kicka*s rockers, while 'Mrs. Pressure' displayed Buchanan's knack for more melodic endeavors.  At least to my ears the standout track was also the most unexpected offering - an amazing collaboration with Otis Clay on the O.V.Wright classic 'A Nickel And A Nail'.  Not the perfect Buchanan album - perhaps not really possible given his unique talents; I think you had to see him in a live setting to truly appreciate his gifts; this was still an album worth owning.  

 

The video and sound quality aren't very good and there are no performance credits, but here's a YouTube clip of the title track: 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkbM1M1WN0w

 

"When A Guitar Plays the Blues" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) When a Guitar Plays the Blues   (Johnson - Hables) - 6:35

2.) Chicago Smokeshop (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan) - 4:57

3.) Mrs. Pressure (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan)  - 4:35

4.) A Nickel And A Nail   (Morrison - Malone) - 4:28

 

(side 2)

1.) Short Fuse   (Roy Buchanan)  - 3:29

2.) Why Don't You Want Me?   (Osso) - 6:04

3.) Country Boy   (Bartholmew - Fast Domino) - 3:44

4.) Sneaking Godzilla Through The Alley   (Roy Buchanan)  - 6:14

5.) Hawaiian Punch   (Roy Buchanan) - 1:51

 

 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Dancing On the Edge

Company: Alligator

Catalog: AL-4747

Year: 1986

Country/State: Ozark, Arkansas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2718

Price: $15.00

 

Co-produced by Roy Buchanan, Bruce Iglauer, and Dick Shurman, 1986's "Dancing On the Edge" was Buchanan's second collection for the Chicago based Alligator Records.  Perhaps because it played down Buchanan's blues chops, it's always been one of my Buchanan albums.  That's not to say this was a Buchanan stab at top-40 success, but tracks like hsi remake of 'Peter Gunn' and the instrumental 'Pedal To the Metal' were surprisingly commercial. The fact Delbert McClinton joined the band for three selections ('The Chokin' Kind', 'You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover', and 'Baby, Baby. Baby') was just icing on the cake.  To be honest, this album probably wasn't going to change your opinion of Buchanan one way or the other. To my ears it was a wonderful example of the man's almost magical skill on guitar.  Exemplified by tracks like his cover of 'Drowning On Dry Land' (with Buchanan handling lead vocals), and originals like 'Jungle Gym', 'Whiplash', and the closer 'matthew', he was lightening quick, highly melodic, seldom played unnecessary note, but was capable of shredding with the best of them.  As you probably guessed, the three collaborations with McClinton were the standout performances, but the entire album was worth a spin.

 

"Dancing On the Edge" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Peter Gunn (instrumental)   (Henry Mancini) - 3:13   rating: **** stars

I suspect Henry Mancini never expected to hear this tune played with such flair and energy ...Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever heard the song played with such gusto.  Simply killer.  A tune you can't sit still though.  Not sure of the year; guessing same time the album was released, but YouTube has a tasty live clip of Buchanan playing the tune in front of an German audience for the Rockpalast television show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToFoHHXdBoM  

2.) The Chokin' Kind   (Harlan Howard)- 3:11   rating: **** stars

One of three tunes to feature the great Delbert McClinton on vocals.  As much as I love the Joe Simon version, I think this cover might be even better.  How can you not love a tune with lyrics like "If you don't like the peaches, walk by the tree" ?  McClinton was in tiptop shape (one of rock's finest voices) and Buchanan turned in one of his sweetest solos.  This should have been a single for the pair.

3.) Jungle Gym (instrumental)  (Roy Buchanan) - 3:05  rating: *** stars

A rare Buchanan original, the instrumental 'Jungle Gym' was surprisingly commercial, though I seem to detect just a touch of the 'Batman Theme' in the melody.   

4.) Drowning On Dry Land  (Mickey Gregory - Alan Jones) - 6:18   rating: **** stars

I grew up with the Albert King and O.V. Wright versions of this blues classic, but I have to tell you Buchanan's version was every it as good and infinitely sadder since within two years the man would take his own life after being arrest and jailed for public intoxication.   So sad ...   The sound and video quality aren't great (nor is the backing band), but YouTube has a live performance of the tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJfBrCa19io  

5.) Petal To the Metal (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan) - 2:26   rating: *** stars

Another Buchanan original, I'm not a guitar player, but the man could get such amazing tone out of his telecaster.  

 

(side 2)

1.) You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover   (Willie Dixon) - 3:20   rating: **** stars

With McClinton on vocals, this was easily the funkiest version of the Willie Dixon classic  I've ever heard.  

2.) Cream of the Crop (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan) - 2:35   rating: *** stars

Another Buchanan original, the instrumental 'Cream of the Crop' almost had a garage rock edge.  Nice.

3.) Beer Drinking Woman   (Chatman) - 4:45   rating: *** stars

Buchanan actually had a nice voice, but seemed reluctant to apply it.   The album's lone blues number, his cover of 'Beer Drinking Woman' was a perfect example with Buchanan kind of talk-singing his way through the tune.  His stunning solo kind of made up for the vocals.

4.) Whiplash (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan) - 2:26   rating: *** stars

The album's most pop-oriented instrumental.

5.) Baby, Baby, Baby  (Aretha Franklin - Carolyn Franklin) - 4:23   rating: **** stars

It won't make you forget Aretha's version, but it came close and her version didn't have Buchanan's shimmering solo on it.   McClinton really does have a special voice.

6.) Matthew (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan) - 2:02  rating: **** stars

'Matthew' closed the album with a gorgeous instrumental that would not have sounded out of place on a Mark Knopfler soundtrack album - think along the lines of "Local Hero".

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Hot Wire

Company: Alligator

Catalog: AL-4756

Year: 1987

Country/State: Ozark, Arkansas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5670

Price: $15.00

 

 

Curiously, while Roy Buchanan's two earlier releases for Alligator Records were greeted with widespread critical acclaim and treated as a major comeback,1987's "Hot Wires" attracted little media attention and even fewer sales.  Even sadder, in the wake of his August 1988 death by suicide the album proved to be Buchanan's final studio release.  Co-produced by Buchanan, Bruce Ihlauer, Justin Niebank, and Dick Shurman, the album reunited Buchanan with some of Chicago's premier players including bassist Larry Exum, drummer Morris Jennings, and guitarist Donald Kinsley.  Musically the collection featured a mixture of Buchanan originals and R&B and soul covers.  It's always struck me as somewhat ironic that Buchanan consistently outsourced vocals; in this case The Blues Express' Kanika Kress and Johnny Sayles.  While Buchanan's voice may not have been the most versatile singer you've ever heard, his sing/speak voice was quite likeable and well suited to the bluesy genre and a series of rare Buchanan vocals were among the album highlights - the goofy swamp rocker 'Goose Grease', 'Ain't No Business' and the stormy 'The Blues Lover'.  But then you're not going to buy a Buchanan LP for his voice ...  The instrumental 'Sunset Over Broadway' may have been the prettiest song Buchanan ever wrote.  Simply gorgeous and easy to picture it being selected for placement on a film soundtrack.  'Flash Chordin'' was a stupefying display of the man's speed and dexterity (my 18 year old aspiring guitarist son was simply dumbfounded by the performance - 'how can someone do that with a guitar?').  Certainly not his creative zenith, but easily in my top-5 Buchanan list and as his final studio set, a sad reminder of lost talent.

 

"Hot Wires" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) High Wire    (Roy Buchanan)- 2:41

2.) That Did It   (D. Clark - P. Wood) - 5:05

3.) Goose Grease   (J. Heartsman) - 3:00

4.) Sunset Over Broadway (instrumental)   (Roy Buchanan) - 4:12

5.) Ain't No Business   (D. Malone) - 3:16

6.) Flash Chordin'   (Roy Buchanan) - 4:05

 

(side 2)

1.) 25 Miles  (Edwin Starr - Harvey Fuqua) - 3:50

2.) These Arms of Mine   (Otis Redding) - 5:16

3.) Country Boogie   (Junior Parker) - 4:30

4.) The Blues Lover   (Roy Buchanan) - 8:10

 

 

 

 

 

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