Roy Buchanan

When a Guitar Plays the Blues
Roy Buchanan
Roy Buchanan

After a recording hiatus, the blues-rock pioneer enjoyed a 1985 comeback with this Telecaster manifesto, now reissued on vinyl. The title track opens with volume swells on a rabid Fender amp drenched in reverb and overdrive before he blows the roof off with screaming bends and a razor tone. Roy was back.

“Chicago Smokeshop” is funk-blues that lets Buchanan solo like a speed-freaked demon. Conversely, “Country Boy” is a “Green Onions” variation with spoken vocals and fast, almost Van Halen-esque pull-offs (no wonder Roy’s career was erratic – it was impossible to pigeonhole the guy). On “Mrs. Pressure,” he turns the volume down for silky, Hawaiian-like glissandos in the Chet Atkins/Les Paul wheelhouse – it’s gorgeous. “Sneaking Godzilla Through the Alley” displays a wonky riff with swells on top, while “Short Fuse” carves a path for Roy to visit Tele town.

“A Nickel and a Nail,” the best cut on the album, is sultry minor blues with Bill Heid’s haunting organ and guest Otis Clay on vocals. Buchanan’s solo here is raw and devastating.
Though Buchanan committed suicide three years after its release, this vinyl reminds us of his vast legacy. A Telecaster master that’s gone, but never forgotten.

This article originally appeared in VG’s October 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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