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Roy Buchanan

This is the feature where we revisit bands or albums that are worthy of attention but may well have been overlooked over the years…we also signpost the definitive CD versions and related albums worth investigating.

If you have your own neglected band/album send us a review!

Roy Buchanan

The story of Roy Buchanan is one of a great unsung hero, a feeling of real sadness, and unachieved goals.

Whether Buchanan actually had any career goals is a moot point. He carved out his early career sessioning for some of the early sixties rockabilly acts. His time with Polydor in the late sixties/seventies pigeon-holed him as a country blues player and his early albums were patchy, it was only the later works that unleashed his true potential.

‘Loading Zone’ in particular (with collaborators Ray Gomez and Steve Cropper) is outstanding with a wonderful rendition of ‘Green Onions’ - Buchanan trading fiery licks with the M.G’s guitarist.

Long admired by his peers, notably Jeff Beck and the late Danny Gatten, and subject to legendary stories about job offers with the Stones, Buchanan was a quiet but complex character who had to wait until the mid-1980s to realise his true vocation.

The Grammy-award winning ‘When A Guitar Plays The Blues’ in 1985 was the zenith of a series of superb blues rock albums for the Alligator label. He also teamed up with vocalist Delbert McClinton and members of Kinsey Report.

Three years later Buchanan was found hung in his police cell after his arrest for disorderly behaviour. Conspiracy theories abound, but the bottom line is that we lost one of the true great guitar innovators, a master of controlled feedback and harmonics. Buchanan's playing was often intense, almost revealing a battling will within - a 'screaming inside' as he called it - but could also be delicate and understated.

Buchanan’s discography splits into the early session work, through the Polydor/Atlantic years to the Alligator revival.

Compilations of Buchanan's work abound but the Polydor/Atlantic period was well documented on the 2-CD set 'Sweet Dreams - The Anthology' which also features a number of previously unreleased tracks. For a quick fix of his later material, ‘When A Guitar Plays The Blues’ is an excellent introduction.

Don't miss:
Sweet Dreams - The Anthology
(Polydor 517086, 2-CD 1992)

Don't skip:
Green Onions

Worth investigating:When A Guitar Plays The Blues (Alligator 4741,1990)

Text © 2005 David Randall

Further info:

Green Onions
© 1977 Polydor Inc. All rights reserved.

Photograph by Lisa Siefert from 'Roy Buchanan - Deluxe Edition' (Alligator ALCD5608)

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