They ain’t pretty but they hear real well.

£5.99. That’s what it cost me. £5.99 on Amazon, with a free download too. An introduction to the greatest guitar player I’d never heard before. I’d heard of him, I read a lot in these areas, but in my stubborn little way I’d never bothered to give him a try. He was once labelled the ‘greatest unknown guitar player in the world’ and I suppose he still is, only now I offer you a once in a lifetime chance to gawp at his brilliance. The surge of warmth that discovering something new to you in music is, is amongst the greatest natural feelings the body and mind can encounter. It’s a new kettle, a hole in one in front of your mates, a clean car and freshly made bed all rolled into one. And then multiplied. Even better you don’t have to make any physical effort to absorb great new music; you can just let your mind open up and sure enough the body will follow.

So, if you have £5.99 to spare then I advise you promptly invest in ‘Sweet Dreams, The Roy Buchanan Anthology’. Breaking into the sad, soulful world of Roy Buchanan is my first musical epiphany of 2019 and already I’m beginning to wonder if anything will top it. It is quite likely that virtuoso guitar playing may not float your boat but even then it would be worth giving him a try just to witness a confused, tortured existence blessed with a skill and talent (they are two different things) that should have made even Jimi Hendrix wonder if he was in the right job.

If you’re still not ready then do what I did and find him on YouTube. Just type in ‘Roy Buchanan Old Grey Whistle Test’ and give it a shot. He’s dressed like a 70’s Geography teacher on a date (which is, I think you’ll agree, very cool). Thick of hair and beard and very possibly as far away from a rock’n’roll look as you could get but when he rips into Johnny B Goode you can’t disagree that he is very much in a zone. A very good zone. The interview is safe but lovely. Whisperin’ Bob Harris has never been my cup of tea so better to focus on Roy, a quietly spoken good ‘ol boy from Arkansas who clearly doesn’t fit in with the times but somehow ‘gets’ music on a very deep and multi-layered level. We must be grateful he wasn’t on the same week as Roxy Music.

Being lost in the best decade music has ever offered us can’t have been much fun for poor Roy. He seemed to skirt the boundaries of acknowledgement, let alone fame, and never got a proper foothold enough to do really well out of the business. He had drink problems. He looks like the kind of guy who would. And in the late 80’s he hanged himself in a prison cell in Virginia. He just didn’t fit and yet if he was alive today he’d probably be on Jools Holland. Perhaps he knew that and topped himself well in advance. Keep watching the Whistle Test and you’ll see him do ‘Sweet Dreams’ and just about bury every over the top guitar performance you’ll ever see. And then stay on YouTube and watch some more. I got into him almost exactly 24 hours ago and am already smitten. I wish I could have shook his hand and bought him a drink and listen to that beautiful, warm southern drawl for a few hours. And then ask him to kick the shit out of his guitar. Music does this faster and better than anything else in the world. Thank the laws of nature my ears still work.

G B Hewitt. 19.01.2019

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