Texan blues guitarist Buddy Whittington spent many years as John Mayall's sideman and only stepped out as the leader of his own band in recent years; it's one thing polishing your reputation as a great blues guitarist but it's quite another to take on the responsibilities of writing the material and singing it, and on the evidence of this record, it's a wonder that Buddy Whittington didn't make the jump sooner. The eleven tracks here represent a fair old tour of electric blues: touching rock (ZZ Top - style), country (Hot Rod Lincoln style) and a bit of the old Allman Brothers sound, there's a distinct Texan/Southern flavour to Buddy's music. Perhaps surprisingly, he doesn't write his own material so that he might show off his guitar prowess; he wears his skill lightly and slips his fast fingered solos into the middle section, always resisting the temptation to make it all about the guitar. That said, you don't have to be paying too close attention to realise what a master the man is, from the grungey heaviness of Fender Champ to the fast picking of I Had To Go See Alice, he can do it all.
All eleven tracks (one instrumental amongst them) are Buddy Whittington originals and his songwriting is really engaging; he tends to be quite wordy and tell a story - it's as if he's a country writer who happens to play the blues - and most songs are enlivened by a wry humour which never lets him take life too seriously. It's the same sort of tone that Joe Walsh used on Life's Been Good, and Buddy Whittington uses it just as well as Joe Walsh did. Quite a few of these songs have a near-spoken delivery, but Buddy's singing voice is just fine, seemingly effortless and certainly characterful. The instrumental, For Crystal Beach, is beautiful, spinning a mellow mood with graceful ease and the album closes with a gentle homily about making the most of people we care about, While We're Here; it's along the same lines as Mike and the Mechanics' Living Years, performed in a style that sounds something like Robert Cray to my ears. It's one of those songs that when it catches you in the right mood, you'll be shedding a tear into your pint.
Good stuff all round then, an entertaining forty minutes in the company of a big man with a hefty talent.
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