The connection between classic rock and the blues is never clearer than on a Buddy Guy record. From the opening notes of Skin Deep the marriage of the two is a blatant as a blushing bride and groom on their way to the honeymoon suite. (Guy is a member of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and his guitar work influenced Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton).The opening track on Skin Deep, “Best Damn Fool,” is all Buddy Guy – fiery electric guitar, smoking horn section and simmering macho bravado. “I can make an old woman young/ I’m the best damn fool that you ever met.” And that’s just the beginning.
Despite the reference to rock this is a big, bombastic, blow-out-the-speakers blues record and Buddy ain’t shy about tooting his own horn. He may be in his 70’s but it’s clear all his parts are working overtime. His voice is a beautiful thing, all passion, sex and vulnerability. He can promise a woman a night of pure bliss and then turn around and howl at the moon in broken-heart pain. There is such conviction in his delivery that there is no room to question his sincerity.
Guy has plenty of help thanks to a stellar line-up of musical friends. “Too Many Tears” a mesmerizing end-of-the affair ballad features a duet with Susan Tedeschi. Tedeschi’s husband, Derek Trucks, deftly maneuvers country-rock guitar flavorings to the arrangement. Trucks pops up again on “Skin Deep” on which Guy, who was raised in Louisiana under Jim Crow laws, recounts his own experience with racism and turns it into a universal appeal for harmony and understanding. It’s appropriate that Eric Clapton join Guy on guitar and vocals for “Every Time I Sing the Blues.” Both men have dedicated themselves to preserving the genre and they turn this one into a declaration of their conviction for the music. This sentiment is echoed on “Who’s Gonna Fill Those Shoes” in which Guy name checks many of the great bluesman, now gone, who inspire Guy’s music.
Robert Randolph is one of the young stars who continue the blues legacy. He adds his steel pedal playing on “Out In The Woods.” Bekka Bramlett and Wendy Moten contribute vocals to the sexy double-entendre filled “Show Me The Money.”
All the songs on Skin Deep are new, something Guy attributes to having more artistic control. He co-wrote 7 of the 12 tracks. The other 5 tracks complement his ferocious guitar licks and sensuously masculine singing style.