Vinyl Me, Please Reissues Buddy Guy's "Left My Blues In San Francisco"

Buddy Guy’s 1967 Chess release—his first— has nothing to do with San Francisco, nor was it recorded July of 1967 though the jacket says it was. No big deal. Someone (probably Leonard Chess) chose to reference San Francisco because “flower power” was happening and it seemed like a good way to grab the white kids’ interest. The recording date was chosen close to the original release date so it would sound current but in fact, this is a compilation that includes tracks recorded between 1962 and 1967.

When you hear Guy’s self-penned “She Suits Me to A Tee” it may remind you of Eric Clapton’s “Outside Woman Blues” from Cream’s 1967 album Disraeli Gears (released in November of 1967) but Guy’s track was recorded in 1966.

The album is a mix of old school simply arranged blues with Guy’s vocals and stinging guitar backed by just piano, organ and bass, for instance on his “I Suffer the Blues” and by piano, bass, drums and tenor sax on Willie Dixon’s “Goin’ Home”, while other tracks feature more complex arrangements—the kind you’d hear from a blues club bandstand. Some of the musicians are identified and others are unknown and probably will never be identified. The orchestrations by Charles Stepney and Gene Barge are powerful as they have to be to not be buried by Guy’s uncontainable banshee scream vocals.

Not surprisingly, given the five year time span during which these tracks were recorded, the sound and production vary, but as always the Ter-Mar studio sound sears with deep, powerful bass, raw, satisfying drums and horns that cut effectively through the rhythm section’s foundation. The mixes are dense, full and strictly “old school” and probably recorded live to four track tape.

Twenty years after its original Chess release MCA reissued this as part of its “Original Chess Masters” series, digitally remastered by Greg Fulginiti (so many Italian mastering engineers!) at Artisan sound. This reissue cut for VinyMePLease by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio is unrecognizable from the MCA reissue and give thanks for that! Everything that was dead-wrong about early digital remastering—the thin, bright picture, the wobbly spatial definition (etc.) have been transformed into a model of original pressing clarity, with solid imaging, full dynamics and everything needed to return you to the sonic thrills of early to mid ‘60s tape recording greatness.

Vinyl Me, Please has gone for deluxe laminated “tip on” jacket packaging and 180 gram GZ Media black vinyl that was cosmetically and sonically outstanding. According the the Vinyl Me, Please website this record is currently unavailable but hopefully it will be re-stocked, otherwise I’m not sure why they sent me a copy to review.

The record includes a side spine (not sure what it’s really called) and a booklet with an essay by Andrew Winistorfer that in my opinion unnecessarily demonizes “white Monarchists” Eric Clapton and Keith Richards.

When the curated service Vinyl Me, Please was first announced I was skeptical but today it’s quite clear the company has seriously upped the quality of its releases, including often cutting from tape and using deluxe packaging. What’s more the album selections tend to be far more adventurous than are those from some of the so-called “audiophile” reissue labels. And you can buy without subscribing. When the company announced a boxed Blue Note reissue series cut from tape, it sold out within hours, proving the vinyl resurgence is not a fad. With excellent reissues like this one, Vinyl Me, Please brings audiophile quality reissues to an audience that exends well beyond the “audiophile ghetto” and for that those of living within those walls should be grateful!

Don's picture

Hi Mike,
This is the first time I've commented here, so first let me say thanks for all your work - particularly your youtube videos which I have learned a great deal from.
Regarding this article:
1.) Is the VMP reissue cut from tape? It wasn't 100% clear to me.
2.) I have been collecting "Original Chess Masters" for awhile under the presumption they were AAA. Over on the Hoffman forums, Mr H himself commented that they were all cut from tape, and that he was the man on the lathe. (Sometime credited, somtimes uncredited) The artwork stating they were "digitally remastered" was apparently transfered incorrectly from the CD's. Of the ones I own - some sound AAA, some not so much. Is Greg Fulginiti in your rolodex? Maybe you could ask him to confirm/deny?
Keep fighting the good fight mate!

Tom L's picture

...for sure-there will be no more Chess releases made from the original masters. Same for a lot of other great music because of this Universal fire. A real tragedy.