Friday, October 19, 2012

The Best of Roy Buchanan: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection

Roy Buchanan is known as a guitar giant and respected by greats such as Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck and was once even asked to join the Rolling Stones, though he preferred to remain on his own.  Born in Arkansas and raised outside of Bakersfield, he was heavily influenced by country (apparently starting on steel guitar) before discovering rock’n’roll. He played with many different people (Dale Hawkins and Ronnie Hawkins, among others) before starting his own solo career. While never attaining star status, two of his albums went gold and he was a successful live act until he (reportedly) took his own life after being arrested for public intoxication.

This “best of” set includes many of his most well- known numbers, including “Wayfaring Pilgrim”, “The Messiah Will Come Again” (he attended tent revivals as a child) and his version of Hendrix’s version of “Hey Joe”. At different times, he took on several Hendrix tunes and always acquitted himself nicely, which is a testament to his prowess. As a singer, Buchanan was good but not great, but as a player, he was among the best. His solos can have a sweet delicacy or can blast with intense emotion. They can be slow and moving or blindingly fast. His trademarks included volume and tone bending that he managed with his hands & the guitar knobs and an expertise in controlled harmonics.

His songs are not as memorable as his playing, unfortunately, which is most likely why he did not reach higher fame & fortune. But for those who love to hear what can be done with a block of wood & 6 strings in the hands of a master, this is a great place to start, but pick up any of his albums!