Buddy Guy and Junior Wells were doubtlessly the best known duo in contemporary blues. Buddy is a groundbreaking, fiery electric blues guitarist and Junior was one of Chicago blues’ master harmonica stylists. Both started recording in the 1950s, and their best records are amongst the cream of modern blues recordings. They toured all over the world, playing loud, tough, electric Chicago blues, accompanied by hot and hard rhythm sections.
In 1981, in the midst of a European tour, Buddy and Junior spent a day in a studio in Paris, getting back to their roots. Instead of their usual electric guitar and amplified harmonica, both played acoustic instruments. Instead of accompaniment by a full band, they were accompanied only by each other. The results were an hour of intimate, relaxed blues, with many of the lyrics improvised on the spot. Together they paid homage to the Deep South acoustic blues tradition from which their contemporary music sprang, and to some of the bluesmen who inspired them. Buddy offered three originals and three John Lee Hooker classics. Junior sang two originals and paid tribute to his mentor, Muddy Waters, performing one of Muddy’s own songs and two classic Delta blues that were Waters’ favorites. They played and sang acoustic versions of songs that had been made famous as electric blues by Jimmy Reed, Jimmy Rogers and Ricky Allen. The original album was released in Europe on Isabel Records under the title Going Back.
Since Junior's death in 1998, Buddy’s electrifying and electric guitar performances have won him even greater fame, while Junior’s legacy has been enriched by reissues of his studio recordings and some of his full-band live performances. But this album stands apart, as the only all-acoustic studio album that Buddy and Junior ever recorded together, just the two of them.
We at Alligator Records first made these wonderful, very personal recordings available in North America on CD in 1991. In addition to the songs which appeared on the original French release, Isabel Records provided five previously unissued performances for our release. Alone & Acoustic captures the magical, telepathic communication of two men who truly loved each other, and loved making music together.
- Bruce Iglauer, 2011
Produced by Didier Tricard
Recorded May 15, 1981 at Sysmo Studio, Paris, France
Cover photo by Peter Amft
Back cover photos by Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve
Cover design by Matt Minde
Additional material for North American release chosen by Bruce Iglauer
Mastered for vinyl reissue by Collin Jordan and Bruce Iglauer at The Boiler Room, Chicago, IL
Photographed harmonica courtesy Lee Oskar Harmonicas
Photographed guitar courtesy Andy Aledort
Special thanks to I.M.L. (representing Guild Guitars in France) and National Music of Paris.
Very special thanks to Marty Salzman and Scott Cameron.