Buddy Guy, Live At The Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago – 1979

Fred Goodman

By Fred Goodman

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Chicago blues icon Buddy Guy is the man most frequently cited by Eric Clapton as his favorite guitarist, perhaps because Guy learned his stinging, piercing, heart-wrenching style and earned his accolades on a long, long professional road. Working with Muddy Waters in the early '60s, Guy helped define the Chess label's increasingly urban sound, combining the deep blues of his Lettsworth, Louisiana, childhood with the rough-and-ready style of Chicago's Southside clubs. Both on his own and in tandem with harmonica great Junior Wells, with whom he cut several seminal albums, Guy has been an avatar of the electric blues and his recordings — beginning with his earliest for Cobra in the '50s through to his newest efforts for Silvertone — are among the genre's finest.

Clapton’s hero displays his towering skill

It's no knock to call Live at the Checkerboard Lounge typical Guy: it's a full-bore blast of writhing guitar blues. Cut at the famous Chicago blues club (which Guy owned), this is straight-forward, what-you-see-is-what-you-get blues, played passionately for an appreciative audience. The tunes themselves, such as "Don't Answer the Door" and "The Things I Used to Do," are virtually interchangeable, but they become secondary when Buddy Guy steps to the fore and lets it rip.