ROY BUCHANAN LIVE FROM AUSTIN TX LP VINYL NEW 33RPM
There is so little professionally shot video footage of Roy Buchanan officially available, that this frustratingly short half-hour set is a major find for the late guitarist's devoted fan base. Recorded November 15, 1976 when he was 37, the Austin City Limits DVD doesn't add extra footage to what was originally telecast, and is one of the few ACL videos not to do so. There likely wasn't anything else salvageable, but these five tunes find the Telecaster master at his most potent. He doesn't wait to pull out his bag of tricks, such as playing leads with his left hand while drinking a beer with his right and using it over the fret fingerings to alter the sound of his guitar, doing both on the opening "Roy's Blutz."
Most of the songs had been in his live set for many years, but that doesn't diminish the power and sheer intensity of his string bending on "Sweet Dreams" and a closing version of "The Messiah" that will leave viewers slack jawed. His three-piece band had worked with him for a while, and even though they don't elevate the material, that's not their job. Rather, they provide a rock-solid foundation from which Buchanan can soar. Although he looks rather dour as the set begins, the guitarist loosens up throughout the 30 minutes. He doesn't bother with extraneous stage maneuvers or between-song banter and his vocals, if you can call his talk-singing that, are very much an afterthought, but once he lets loose on that Telecaster, everything else is forgotten.
He takes his time on a slow but intense version of "Hey Joe" and even throws in a rarity, a cover of Booker T. & the MG's' "Soul Dressing" that was never included on one of his studio albums, into the mix. The remastered DTS surround sound is vibrant and the video transfer is acceptable, even with a slightly disconcerting discolored vertical line to the left of the screen that never goes away. Although the camera work is more primitive than we are used to with the typically professionally recorded ACL series (it takes about half of the first tune for the camera to focus on Buchanan's fingers) you won't notice after the fretboard fireworks begin. While it's too brief and far from perfect, as of its 2008 release, this is the best available footage of one of the guitar's most legendary and ultimately self-destructive talents. ~ Hal Horowitz