Over the past decade a new generation has discovered Buddy Guy's raunchy guitar licks, soul-deep vocals and electrifying live shows. But the veteran of West Side Chicago blues clubs and roadhouse one-nighters has had the right stuff since the early '60s when he was a session player for Chess Records. Between laying down guitar lines for Muddy Waters
, Howlin' Wolf
and Koko Taylor
, Guy cut 43 tunes on his own. The two-CD THE COMPLETE CHESS STUDIO RECORDINGS, is a living testament to the pivotal role Guy's generation of Chicago blues artists played in the transition from deep blues to urban R&B and soul. Cuts like "First Time I Met the Blues" and the devastatingly lonely "My Mother" are gritty and pain-filled, with the Louisiana native's high, honeyed voice echoing the poverty and oppression that blacks experienced in the South. But there are also the sexy-smooth guitar grooves on "Moanin'" and "Night Flight," and plenty of party pieces, too. "Slop Around" reflects the innocent but energetic R&B tunes of the era, "Skippin'" features the chicken-pickin' guitar style, and "Going to School" is Guy's now classic takeoff of the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb. THE COMPLETE CHESS STUDIO RECORDINGS documents a master at his flowering and reveals he had hit full bloom pretty darn quick.