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Guitar On Fire - The Atlantic Sessions

Roy Buchanan

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Album Review

The 16-tracks on this compilation are from Roy Buchanan's trio of mid-1970s titles: A Street Called Straight (1976), Loading Zone (1977), and You're Not Alone (1978). After a less than personally (or professionally) satisfying stint earlier in the decade with Polydor Records, Buchanan teamed up with Atlantic, who helped him get out of his pending contract with the former. Under the direction of Arif Mardin, the guitarist assembled the same instrumental support combo he'd used during his concurrent and practically incessant touring — John Harrison (bass), Malcolm Lukens (keyboards), and Byrd Foster (drums/vocals). The core quartet are augmented by all-stars Andy Newmark (drums), Will Lee (bass), Billy Cobham (percussion), the Brecker Brothers horn section, and even backing vocals from former Rascals member Eddie Brigati. The ferocious opening whine of "Running Out" is followed by Buchanan's nimble and liquefied tone, which enhances his otherwise bold and unabashed emotive leads. Specifically, the center solo exemplifies his remarkable ability to ably turn from a finely honed and sinister sound, to a divergent string stretching bluesy intonation. The reading of Jimi Hendrix' "If Six Was Nine" is nothing short of an inspired augmentation of the original. While Mardin's production on A Street Called Straight has been roundly criticized, there is a distinct progression from his previous studio releases, which were consistently hit-or-miss. Loading Zone is represented on this collection by no less than six of the LPs nine tunes. The effort was overseen by jazz bassist Stanley Clarke, and yields some thoroughly excellent material. Of top priority is the stretched-out Memphis groove on "Green Onions," sporting contributions from Booker T. & the MG's personnel Steve Cropper (guitar) and Donald "Duck" Dunn (bass). Of equal note is "Ramon's Blues," which commences this set, with riff upon riff of smouldering rounds of fretwork from Buchanan. You're Not Alone builds upon a spacey motif, right down to the astronaut headgear depicted in the cover artwork. Within the grooves are the languid and restrained "Fly...Night Bird," as well as a pair of diverse cover versions of rock classics "Turn to Stone" (Joe Walsh) and "Down by the River" (Neil Young). After a blistering take-off, the former disintegrates, thanks to the rather uninspired smooth jazz arrangement, which is highlighted by Buchanan's intense fret board flurries. Vocalist Gary St. Clair fronts the soulful "Down by the River," which is nowhere as essential as the live (and otherwise unavailable) rendering included on the two-disc Sweet Dreams: The Anthology (1992), or the decisive, if not definitive interpretation on Buck & the Snake Stretchers (1971). The ante is significantly raised, however, on the intense "Supernova," which aptly reasserts Buchanan's proficiency. Although there is a bit of overlapping material, Guitar on Fire: The Atlantic Sessions (1993) is a great companion to the aforementioned Sweet Dreams: The Anthology as a worthwhile critical assessment of Roy Buchanan's sadly unrated status, reiterating his moniker as "The World's Best Unknown Guitarist."

Biography

Born: 23 September 1939 in Ozark, AR

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Roy Buchanan has long been considered one of the finest, yet criminally overlooked guitarists of the blues rock genre whose lyrical leads and use of harmonics would later influence such guitar greats as Jeff Beck, his one-time student Robbie Robertson, and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons. Although born in Ozark, AR, on September 23, 1939, Buchanan grew up in the small town of Pixley, CA. His father was both a farmer and Pentecostal preacher, which would bring the youngster his first exposure to gospel music...
Full bio
Guitar On Fire - The Atlantic Sessions, Roy Buchanan
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  • 11,94 €
  • Genres: R&B/Soul, Music, Rock, Blues-Rock
  • Released: 20 April 1993

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