The recording and production on Roy Buchanan's first record for Polydor, is delightfully bare, sparse in ornamentation, and full of bum notes and aborted ideas that would be deleted on most commercial releases. It is a loose, highly improvised affair that amply demonstrates why the leader is one of the underappreciated giants of rootsy guitar. Straddling country, blues, and traditional rock & roll, Buchanan's playing is fiery and unpremeditated. His tone is delightfully raw and piercing, his solo ideas impetuous and uncluttered. On the instrumental tracks, such as his famous reading of "Sweet Dreams" or Buchanan's own "The Messiah Will Come Again," one can see why he was such an influence on Jeff Beck, another master of the instrument known for his genre-blending and ragged spontaneity.
There is a slight Michael Bloomfield influence felt in Buchanan's blues playing, most evident in the first chorus of "John's Blues" and the quasi-Eastern ornamentations on "Pete's Blue." He plays with pitch, placing notes in unexpected places, constantly keeping the listener guessing. The country tracks, such as "I am a Lonesome Fugitive" and Hank Williams' "Hey, Good Lookin'," benefit greatly from Chuck Tilley's understated vocals. Despite Tilley's presence, the main focus on this record is Buchanan's wailing guitar, which punctuating the vocals with bluesy cries and country moans.
The strongest track on Roy Buchanan is "The Messiah Will Come Again." This song opens with Buchanan's mumbled spoken word intro over quiet organ and then yields to spine-tingling, sorrow-laden Telecaster that cries and screams in existential torment before giving way in turn to percussive flurries that make less sense as melodic improvisation than as cries of passion. This is raw guitar playing and music making, not for the faint of heart. Fans of blues or country guitar, or those just curious why Jeff Beck would dedicate "'Cause We've Ended As Lovers" from Blow By Blow to Buchanan, would do themselves a favor by picking up this album.
by Daniel Gioffre
This release contains Roy Buchanan's major-label debut LP Roy Buchanan (1972) and the follow-up, Second Album (1973). After the record company rejected a request from the artist to release a live set, Buchanan surreptiously issued the platter on his own under the guise of Buck & the Snake Stretchers (1971). Polydor essentially took the same core personnel, removed them from their more familiar concert club environs and put them into the comparatively sterile recording studio to cut much of the same material. Buchanan is supported by the aforementioned Snake Stretchers: Ned Davis (drums), Dick Heintze (keyboards), Teddy Irwin (rhythm guitar), Chuck Tilley (vocals/rhythm guitar), and Peter van Allen (bass). After honing the tunes night after night, there is little wonder when hearing the tight arrangements or the comfortable communication between Buchanan and company.
Fittingly, the opening cover of Don Gibson's "Sweet Dreams" establishes both the performers' unfettered rapport, as well as the deft precision and unbridled emotion evident in Buchanan's playing. Stylistically, the tracks range from the rural-flavored "I Am a Lonesome Fugitive" or the Creole-infused "Cajun" to the hauntingly noir solos on "Messiah Will Come Again." Arguably, the highlights are the instrumentals "Pete's Blues" and, to a greater extent, the simply stunning epic "John's Blues." The latter may be the guitarist's greatest and most illustrative studio side. Less than six months and a few minor personnel changes later, Second Album was documented to similar results. The emphasis is once again on a variety of approaches to traditionals and originals alike. Erskine Hawkins' "After Hours" is given a formidable workout, while Buchanan's own "Five String Blues" is a seminal example of the artistry that he brings to his craft, as the guitar alternately cries and rejoices at his touch. "I Won't Tell You No Lie" is a funkier number, recalling a mid-tempo interpretation of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine."
From here, the Snake Stretchers disbanded as new producers incorporated their own musicians and vocalists. Sadly, few (if any) of Buchanan's subsequent efforts would reveal the thoroughly solid ensemble work that Roy Buchanan and Second Album so flawlessly demonstrate.
by Lindsay Planer
Roy Buchanan 1972
1. Sweet Dreams (Don Gibson) - 3:34
2. I Am A Lonesome Fugitive (Casey Anderson, Liz Anderson) - 3:43
3. Cajun - 1:35
4. John's Blues - 5:04
5. Haunted House (Robert Geddins) - 2:45
6. Pete's Blue - 7:16
7. The Messiah Will Come Again - 5:55
8. Hey, Good Lookin' (Hank Williams) - 2:15
The Second Album 1973
9. Filthy Teddy - 3:11
10.After Hours (Erskine Hawkins, Avery Parrish) - 6:13
11.Five String Blues - 6:24
12.Thank You Lord - 2:26
13.Treat Her Right (Roy Head, Gene Kurtz) - 2:43
14.I Won't Tell You No Lies - 6:35
15.Tribute To Elmore James - 3:27
16.She Once Lived Here (Autry Inman) - 3:03
All compositions by Roy Buchanan except where noted
*Roy Buchanan - Vocals, Guitars
*Ned Davis - Drums (Tracks 1-8, 16)
*Dick Heintze - Keyboards, Organ, Piano
*Chuck Tilley - Vocals (Track 1-8, 13)
*Pete Van Allen - Bass (Tracks 1-8)
*Teddy Irwin - Guitars
*Gerry Mercer - Drums (Tracks 9-15)
*Don Payne - Bass (Tracks 9-16)
1969-71 Roy Buchanan - The Prophet
1969-78 Roy Buchanan - Sweet Dreams The Anthology
the Free Text