CMJ New Music Report (James Lien) - When it comes to galvanizing a crowd, there are few bluesmen on earth who can rock a house like Buddy Guy; not even earthquake-resistant amphitheaters are immune to his powerful showmanship, and in the open air of outdoor blues festivals, he's been known to play guitar as if he's trying to scare the sky itself. His emergence in the '80s and '90s as one of the blues' true superstars has been one of the great success stories in the history of the genre. Now, after a collaboration with G.E. Smith that seemed to be merely marking time, he's back with another phenomenal album in the spirit of his classics Feels Like Rain and Damn Right I've Got The Blues. Commercial blues formats will surely embrace "Midnight Train" featuring Jonny Lang, but there's loads of other killer tracks for real blues fans, such as "Heavy Love," "I Just Want To Make Love To You" and the sultry New Orleans groove of "Saturday Night Fish Fry." It almost need not be said: Buddy Guy is at the top of his game.
All-Music Guide (Stepen Thomas Erlewine) - Apparently, Buddy Guy subscribes to the theory "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Losing commercial ground to the blonde young guns of Johnny Lang and Kenny Wane Shepherd, Guy hired their producer David Z and set out to record an album of loud, frenzied blues-rock. Purists will cringe at the unabashed commercial concessions Guy makes on Heavy Love -- sure, he covers "Midnight Train," but it's a duet with Johnny Lang, which compliments the funkified "I Just Wanna Make Love to You," psychedelicized licks and a ZZ Top cover ("I Need You Tonight"). Nevertheless, Heavy Love works well when compared to the modern electric blues of the post-Stevie Ray Vaughan era, especially since Guy once again contributes some scorching solos. Granted, his playing may veer too close to rock for some tastes, but anyone wanting an uninhibited, hard-rocking Buddy Guy record won't be disappointed with Heavy Love.
Amazon (Lars Gandil) - Don't let anybody tell you different, Guy is the king, godfather, and high priest of blues rock guitar. Clapton, Hendrix, and Vaughn all stand in his shadow, not the other way around. His latest effort is everything it should be: hard-edged, bone-breaking blues. Guy plays some brutally good guitar, tearing off 11 super-heated cuts. He takes time to remember some past classics such as Muddy Waters's "I Just Want to Make Love to You" and Louis Jordan's "Saturday Night Fish Fry." There is also a nice cover of ZZ Top's "I Need You Tonight" and a killer duet with blues wunderkind Jonny Lang on "Midnight Train." For lovers of modern blues, this is heaven ... guaranteed! --Lars Gandil
Dirty Linen (Nick Crews) - This bluesy, soulful, funky disc from one of the last living blues greats continues the string of great Buddy Guy Grammy-winning releases on the Silvertone label. Strong material, straight-ahead, tasteful mixes and incomparable performances -- bolstered by the second guitar of Steve Cropper -- makes this disc a keeper. The title track features young-guard bluesman Jonny Lang.
Emap Consumer Magazines (Phil Sutcliffe) - Inheritor of the Muddy Waters/Willie Dixon tradition sustains career successfully.Willie Dixon's I Just Want To Make Love To You sounds unambiguous, but where little Mick Jagger sneered it, Buddy Guy sings and plays it as sophisticated seduction, dense with musky multi-orgasmic promise. Described by Eric Clapton as "living history", Guy, now 61, has sailed through the '90s in a long late prime. On Heavy Love, a glorious band, featuring Stax rhythm legend Steve Cropper and Little Feat drummer Richie Hayward, provides clean-cut elegance or boiling funky turmoil as required. With no showboating and no guest celebrities, Guy's honest economy commands every second. For a taster, try Did Somebody Make A Fool Out Of You: deep, dark and guaranteed to shiver timbers.
Pittsburgh Newsweekly (Eric Seiverling) - Want to know where Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton copped their now-legendary guitar licks? Buddy Guy's latest release, Heavy Love, should give you some idea. Along with fellow bluesmen like B.B. King and Albert Collins, Guy was one of the originators of the blues/rock mix. Now with young hotshots Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang leading the resurgence of blues guitar, Guy is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Heavy Love is a nicely packaged collection of safe, pop-oriented blues that show Guy staying true to his roots. No, he doesn't set your speakers on fire like Stevie Ray Vaughan or Gary Moore, but that's not Guy's intention. He plays with a laid-back swagger that's more sweet than sweaty. Check out his version of ZZ Top's "I Need You Tonight" for proof. The original was slow; Guy makes it slower. His guitar sound is ice cold and sharp, thanks to a clean Stratocaster without any distortion. No warm overdrive here. Buddy Guy may not appeal to the younger generation of blues fans, but with admirers like Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Kirk Hammet, he doesn't need to.
The New York Post (Dan Aquilante) - Chicago guitar flash Buddy Guy still has the fire in his fingers to sizzle any Telecaster with six strings, yet on his top recording "Heavy Love," the man whom Eric Clapton called the greatest living blues guitarist is stretching his vocal cords. Where Guy is most impressive is on "Did Somebody Make a Fool Out of You," an extended-blues barn-burner sung slowly, softly and with the feeling of a man who knows the emotions behind the words. Throughout the rest of the disc, there's a conscious effort to blend some electric funk and soul into the blues numbers. The material isn't typical; instead of suffering blues, Guy chooses tunes that sound individually twisted. This decidedly eccentric program makes "Heavy Love" especially enjoyable to those who know Guy as a traditionalist from the Muddy Waters-B.B. King school. This is a no-risk disc for blues lovers. Listen for Buddy playing with 17-year-old guitar whiz Johnny Lang on "Midnight Train," one of the disc's best tracks.
Delta Snake Daily Blues (Robert Varak) - Just picked up "Heavy Love", the new Buddy album on Silvertone. This is not the album that I've been waiting for BG to make. It's not an album that I expected him to make. Even better, it's not a rehash of his last three studio albums. It's a well-produced and beautifully executed album in the sweaty, funky tradition of classic soul. Buddy's road band is supplanted with all new players, with the exception of gifted keyboardist David Z., who also produced and engineered the album. He creates a sinuous, funky groove using wonderful rhythm guitar work and his own magnificent keys. Buddy really takes a different approach to this record. His playing is incendiary as ever, but there seems to be a conscious focus to his playing. He plays many more long and fluid lines reminiscent of Albert King rather than the mile-a-minute fretwor that has characterized much of his recent work. This results in solos that are fresh, moving and genuinely compliment the song. Buddy is finally starting to push himself vocally the way I've often wished he would. The soul tunes which comprise much of the album are a great showcase for his emotive and expressive singing. The cover of "Saturday Night Fish Fry" is a revelation, with Buddy throwing down Louis Jordan-style rap while a funky New Orleans piano drives the melody. The amazingly slow "Did Somebody Make A Fool of You", featuring Buddy's acoustic playing, lets BG's amazing voice take center stage with a minimal arrangement. Not straight blues, but you will be moved. The clunker "Midnight Train", with a near hysterical Jonnny Lang, doesn't detract from the soulfullness of the album. Some may be taken aback with the funky take of "I Just Wanna Make Love To You" (are those programmed drums?), but it really fits the vibe. It's also a great demonstration of how to do contemporary sounding blues with classic material while retaining the emotional resonance. As I said, I had no intention or expectation of being blown away by this album. I am thrilled, however, that Buddy's willing to allow a producer and band to push him in a new direction on record. We'll see how much, if any, of this new attitude manifests itself in his live show. Until then, I'll be grooving to the album.
San Diego Tribune (Michael Kinsman) - OK, now that
Buddy Guy has our attention as one of the most vibrant connections between
Delta blues and rock 'n' roll, why won't he show us why?
Blues Access (Steve Knopper) - Chicago's biggest living blues star has been doing this for almost five decades, but he's still determined to please everybody. So, as with his 1991 breakthrough Damn Right, I've Got the Blues, he hands out fun versions of two ultra-familiar songs/ -- Louis Jordan's '40s jump standard "Saturday Night Fish Fry" and Willie Dixon's '50s classic, "I Just Want to Make Love to You." The former is surprisingly loyal to the original, with Guy simply replacing Jordan's mugging with weary soul; he's much more comfortable on the latter, a Muddy Waters signature, and his experiment with funky rhythm guitar pays off. To further win over the tourists, Guy collaborates with hunky teen phenom Jonny Lang, who frequently shrieks like Michael Bolton but subdues himself enough to make "Midnight Train" a strong duet. Guy's subtle, understated singing is a nice foil for Lang's high-pitched lack of restraint. Guy has always soaked his blues with soul, and the emphasis is more pronounced than ever on Heavy Love -- the front cover has Guy dressed in a Technicolor suit and lounging in a '70s-style space-pod chair, and the dominant grooves come from wah-wah rhythm guitar and electric piano. Guy's guitar improvisations are as explosive as always, especially on "I Got a Problem" and "Need You Tonight," but his emerging soul identity has become much more interesting than the jamming. This approach peaks beautifully on the last song, the methodical blues "Let Me Show You," which begins in a sad whisper and grows into a howl. Guy has always earned plenty of attention for his fingers; it's time to apply the same superlatives to his soft, tearful, underrated voice, which has been maturing for years up to the Bobby "Blue" Bland level.