Craft Recordings: Buddy Guy- Tom Fogerty And More

Our spotlight on vinyl shines this time on newly-released titles from Craft Recordings, the reissue arm of Concord Music, which includes the catalogs of revered labels like Stax, Fantasy, Vanguard, Vee-Jay and many others. Here we listen to two vintage solo albums from former members of Creedence Clearwater Revival and two blues classics that have hit the half century mark. All titles are 12" LPs pressed on 180-gram black vinyl, housed in jackets that replicate the artwork of the original release.

Doug "Cosmo" Clifford - (Self-titled)
For the past 20+ years Clifford and fellow Creedence Clearwater Revival founding member Stu Cook have been performing music from Creedence's deep catalog as Creedence Clearwater Revisited, but this album, Clifford's only solo effort, goes back to 1972, right after the demise of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Cosmo didn't sing any lead vocals with CCR, so fans got their first taste here on a set of mostly original numbers that feature buoyant R&B cuts like "Latin Music" and "For the Rest of Your Life" along with some cornpone country in the form of "Guitars, Drums & Girls." The idea behind cutting a solo album is generally not to do the same thing you've been doing for years and Clifford accomplishes that; the rockin' blues of "Get Your Raise" and the Buck Owens-style country of "Take a Train" are about as close to the CCR sound that he comes here. Guest players include the Tower of Power horn section, John McFee, Cook and famed session man Donald "Duck" Dunn. Get it here

Tom Fogerty - Excalibur
A founding member of Creedence Clearwater Revival, its rhythm guitarist and the brother of band vocalist John Fogerty, Tom passed away in 1990. Excalibur was the second of Fogerty's solo records and he's backed up throughout by his Bay Area pals, a version of the Jerry Garcia Band consisting of Garcia on guitar, John Kahn on bass, Merl Saunders on keys and Bill Vitt on drums. Tom's voice is not unlike that of his little brother's, so lots of songs have a certain familiarity that many will associate with CCR. Fogerty has the working man's blues on the slow, steel guitar enhanced country of "Forty Years," and on the reflective "Faces, Places, People" Fogerty gives Garcia room for a psychedelic solo that begins mid-song, lurking through the closing lyrics and then sizzling in the fade-out. All in all Excalibur is a nice memento of Fogerty and a good snapshot of the era's Grateful Dead-influenced music. Get it here

Buddy Guy - A Man & the Blues
Singer and guitarist Guy was still in his 20s when this album was cut back in 1968 but he demonstrates the chops and voice of a seasoned player as he moans the blues on "A Man and the Blues," romps on the raucous James Brown-informed "I Can't Quit the Blues" and blues-ifies the words of a famous nursery rhyme on "Mary Had a Little Lamb." All of those are self-penned songs and the latter was famously covered by Guy disciple Stevie Ray Vaughn. On "Just Playing My Axe" guy picks up a storm while his band (including pianist Otis Spann) tunes in to a rhythm that is as hip today as it was in the swinging '60s. Guy is in his 80s now but he's currently on the road and it's very likely that fans will be hearing a few cuts from this landmark album. Get it here.

Junior Wells - Coming at You
This legendary blues man, a singer and harmonica player who died in 1998, was a bit older than his pal Buddy Guy when this album was cut 50-years ago, but he was still a young man. Here Guy handles all of the guitar parts and the pair have a field day playing off each other on cuts like "Stop Breakin' Down," the backdoor man story of "Somebody's Tippin' In" and a smoky take on John Lee Hooker's "Five Long Years." A version of Sam Phillips' oft-covered "Mystery Train" features locomotive honking from Wells, chicken pickin' from Guy and greasy sax riffs from Douglas Fagan, while a steamy interpretation of John Laudermilk's "Tobacco Road" presents Wells' voice at its emotive best along with equally emotive harp playing. Another blues classic shines here too as Wells, Guy and the band reel off the Willie Dixon chestnut "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man." Get it here.

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