In this Rockpalast DVD review, I explain what makes these 5 Roy Buchanan songs great and give you my insights into the concert as a whole.
Roy was one of the best rock and blues guitarists of our time and a true master of the Telecaster.
Although the music of Roy Buchanan is not generally well recognized, he was often referred to as “the world’s best unknown guitarist.” Guitar Player magazine has rated him as having one of the “50 Greatest Tones of All Time.” Read any Roy Buchanan bio, and you will find quoted praises from some of the best guitar slingers that have walked this planet!
If you’re in a hurry, you can go directly to These Roy Buchanan Songs Will Blow You Away!
Roy Buchanan: Rockpalast, 1985 – DVD Snapshot
- Recorded: February 24, 1985
- Release Date: March 31, 2017
- Concert Length: 1 Hours & 12 Minutes
- Video Format: Fullscreen
- Starring: Roy Buchanan, Anthony Dumm, John Steele, Martin Yula, Martin Stevenson
- Producer: Wilhelm Lang
- Director: Christian Wagner
Main DVD Disk Menu:
- Trailer (contains trailers for other Rockpalast concerts)
There are no bonus features on this DVD.
The DVD comes in a Digipak, which contains one disk plus an informational booklet.
Roy Buchanan recorded the 1985 Rockpalast concert while on tour after returning from a four-year playing hiatus in 1981. The concert was recorded at the Markthalle Convention Center in Hamburg, Germany. The Markthalle’s main hall can hold up to 1,000 people.
Many big-name acts have played the Markthalle, including AC/DC, B. B. King, The Police, Dio, U2, and Guns N’ Roses.
The case is a single-disk Digipak containing one DVD and a small booklet. The booklet contains a brief biography of Roy, photos of the band, and the tracklist on the back page.
The DVD front cover was made from a stage shot during the concert. The photo was converted to a grayscale image. The rear DVD cover has the tracklist written over a photo of the drummer, Martin Yula.
This concert is also available as a DVD/CD Package from Alligator Records.
Songs And Artists
|Thing In G (Short Fuse), By Buchanan
|Green Onions, By Booker T. & The MG’s
|Roy’s Blues (Roy’s Bluz), By Buchanan
|Walk Don’t Run, By The Ventures
|Sweet Dreams, By Don Gibson
|Peter Gunn, By Henry Mancini
|Blues In D (Blues Shuffle Instrumental), By Buchanan
|Hey Joe, By Roberts
|Foxy Lady, By Hendrix
|Messiah (Messiah Will Come Again), By Buchanan
|Night Train, By Buchanan
|Linda Lou, By Sharpe
|Wayfaring Pilgrim, By Buchanan
- Roy Buchanan – Guitar and vocals
- Anthony Dumm – Bass Guitar
- John Steele – Guitar, keyboards, harmonica, and vocals
- Martin Yula – Drums
- Martin Stevenson – Vocals
These Roy Buchanan Songs Will Blow You Away!
These are the 5 songs from the concert that I think really stand out as some of Roy’s best stuff. Of course, he did so many awesome tunes that it’s difficult to pick just five. If your opinion differs then, please let me know in the comment section below. It’s hard to beat Roy Buchanan music!
Roy’s Blues (Roy’s Bluz)
Roy’s Blues was originally recorded on the album “That’s What I Am Here For” (Polydor), which was released in 1973 as “Roy’s Bluz.”
This tune, played in B minor, has a bit of an unusual beginning. It starts with an opening riff that sounds like it belongs in a piece of classical music. When the time is right, Roy jumps into a snarling blues opus that he begins at the highest part of the neck and he even plays muted notes over the pickguard between the two pickups!
Roy makes it all happen in grand style with lots of perfectly placed volume swells, which he executes with his pinky finger on the volume knob and using hybrid picking. At the end of the song, he gets some crazy echo effects by fingerpicking the strings directly over the bridge saddles of his Telecaster. I never saw anyone else do that one before!
I really like how he speaks the words in this tune instead of singing them, which gives the song a bit of a dark side.
Here is a video of Buchanan playing “Roy’s Blues at the Rockpalast concert. Check it out!
Sweet Dreams is from his debut album Roy Buchanan, August 1972 (Polydor label). It is a definite favorite among Buchanan fans, including myself.
Roy uses such big note bends and volume swells that it sounds like he has a “B-Bender” on his guitar, but his Tele is definitely not equipped with one. If you close your eyes, you will think that at times you are listening to a steel guitar player until he gives himself away with machine-gun-like staccato runs.
Check out the way he incorporates harmonics into this tune, especially if you’re a guitar player!
John Steele plays a great keyboard part that virtually disappears into the background in just the right spots.
Peter Gunn was an American TV series about a private investigator, which ran from 1958 to 1961, and was the first one made specifically for television. It was nominated for an Emmy award and two Grammys.
Its iconic and instantly recognizable theme song was written by Henry Mancini. Very few people that enjoy music can’t hum some version of it.
This song first appeared on Roy’s album, Dancing on the Edge (1986, Alligator Records), and again on Roy Buchanan, The World’s Greatest Unknown Guitarist, in 2000 (Blues Factory label).
It sounds more like a song that belongs in a James Bond movie than a private eye series, especially the way Roy plays it.
The song’s main riff is played in the key of E on guitar by John Steele while Roy adds just the right “secret agent” flavoring. It’s loaded with fast hammer-ons and pull-offs that add excitement to the melody.
Check out Roy’s tapping technique, which he started using right around when Eddie Van Halen popularized the technique for heavy metal (or maybe even before that!).
I saw Roy play in a local small club back in the late 1970s, and he was already tapping a few notes on the fingerboard here and there.
Messiah (Messiah Will Come Again)
This amazing composition was first heard on Roy’s 1972 debut album “Roy Buchanan.”
It features chromatic runs up and down the entire length of his guitar neck, pinch harmonics, and alternating Aeolian and Dorian riffs that really make the song sound sad.
Just as Roy is getting ready to begin the song, an audience member yells out, “you’re number one,” and Roys replies, “there’s no such thing as number one, but I love you for thinking about it.” He really was a humble guy for such a great guitar player.
The Messiah most likely inspired Gary Moore to write “Still Got The Blues” in 1989, and Gary sometimes played both songs in concert as a medley.
This song ends the show, after which Roy comes back out to do two encores.
Wayfaring Pilgrim is from the album Sweet Dreams: The Anthology (1992, Polydor Records).
This is the final song of Roy’s second encore, which he calls “a weird way to end a rock and roll set.”
It is a slow blues/ballad tune in C minor that features haunting Dorian and minor pentatonic runs.
Roy really takes his time and gets it right with the big bends and volume swells that make this song a one-of-a-kind experience.
John Steele really steps up and pulls off a great blues solo on the electric piano.
The song is definitely a masterpiece and one of my all-time Buchanan favorites.
Additional Musical Performance Highlights
Here are the other songs that Roy performed at Rockpalast. Each performance is excellent and showcases his talent and ability as a guitar player.
When you view this concert in its entirety, it’s easy to see and hear what an amazing and versatile player Roy actually was.
Thing In G (Short Fuse)
A similar version of this tune appeared on “Roy Buchanan, The World’s Greatest Unknown Guitarist” on the record label Blues Factory, released in 2000.
Roy uses this tune to open the show after he takes forever to strap on his guitar, find his pick, and wipe his face with a handkerchief (remember those?), but it’s definitely worth the wait.
The song features a catchy repetitive pentatonic reverb-drenched riff and some great chromatic hammer-ons and palm-muting.
“Green onions” was recorded in 1962 by Booker T. & The MG’s, and it features the well-known riff made famous by guitarist Steve Cropper.
It appeared on Roy’s 1977 album, “Loading Zone” and again in 2000 on “Roy Buchanan, The World’s Greatest Unknown Guitarist.”
John Steele begins the song with the iconic keyboard opening riff. Roy adds his own brand of bendy vibrato with lots of tremolo picking. His picking dynamics give the tune just the right feel.
This song has appeared in a zillion movies and TV series over the years, including:
- Blues Brothers 2000
- Get Shorty
- X-Men: First Class
- The Sandlot
- American Graffiti
- Cold Case
- Twin Peaks
- Miami Vice
- The Sopranos
Walk Don’t Run
This song was made popular as the title track of the Ventures debut album, but it was originally written and recorded by Johnny Smith in 1954.
John Steele plays the opening riff and continues it in the background while Roy adds all the tasty bits.
Roy gets a fabulous “surfy” sound that makes you want to throw your surfboard in your red convertible corvette, drive down to the beach, and catch some waves!
The tune is short but very sweet at less than two and a half minutes.
Blues In D (Blues Shuffle Instrumental)
This is another great blues shuffle, which just might have been a quick change in the song lineup, being added by Roy after someone from the audience just happens to yell “play the blues.”
Roy begins the tune with a quick flurry of pinch harmonics and uses an aggressive pick attack that really makes the reverb in the song pop.
I love how he mixes blues scale riffs with some Dorian-sounding runs that really add interest to the piece.
Hey Joe was originally written by William Roberts and then immortalized by Jimi Hendrix. It appears on Roy’s The World’s Greatest Unknown Guitarist album (2000, Blues Factory label) and again on Roy Buchanan The Definitive Collection (2006, Polydor label).
This is the first song of the concert where Roy sings the lyrics.
He plays it in the key of E, just like Jimi did it (not in Eb), and John Steele throws in the E7#9 “Hendrix chord” now and again, even though it technically doesn’t belong there. I have to admit; it does give it more of a Hendrix flavor.
Roy fingerpicks the tail-end of the guitar solo. I really didn’t see that one coming but it sounds great.
Buchanan ends the song with some fretboard tapping using the guitar pick instead of his fingers.
Foxy Lady is one of Jimi’s better-known songs and a rock masterpiece with strangely bluesy overtones. Rolling Stone magazine listed this tune at number 153 of its “500 Greatest Songs Of All Time!”
By the way, Rolling Stone also listed Jimi in their number 1 spot of its “100 Greatest Guitarists” (December 18, 2015)!
Foxy Lady first appears on Roy Buchanan The World’s Greatest Unknown Guitarist (2000, Blues Factory label).
Roy jumps from Hey Joe directly into Foxy Lady to make it a bit of a Hendrix medley. He uses tons of hammer-ons and pull-offs, especially near the end. It’s really something you have to witness for yourself, and you’ll wish you would have thought of it first.
Buchanan plays the solo surprisingly close to the original Hendrix version, but, let’s face it, nobody can play it like Jimi!
If you would like more info on Jimi Hendrix, see Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame – The Killer Guitar Players!
Although James Brown popularized the song “Night Train” way back in 1961 (watch his performance on the TAMI show, and you’ll see where Michael Jackson got many of his dance moves), Roy Buchanan’s version is a totally different song.
This is the first song of the first encore and a very upbeat and catchy tune.
The main riff starts very familiar-sounding but Roy manages to twist it into something entirely different but great, in his own inimitable way.
The tune also features more right-hand fingerboard tapping with left-hand hammer-ons and pull-offs. Roy loves to throw those in there now and again!
This version of Linda Lou was originally written by Ray Sharpe in June 1959, which became a major hit in its time.
This is the second song of the first encore, which the band does as a surprisingly fast version of Sharpe’s original recording.
It features John Steel on harmonica, guitar, and vocals, but Roy definitely puts his signature mark on it with flashy A Major pentatonic riffs.
It is so upbeat, and 50’s sounding that the people in the audience get up and begin dancing. This tune is a very cool part of the show and will remind you just how much fun 50’s music actually was.
Interviews And Backstage Footage
Unfortunately, there are no interviews, backstage footage, or any other bonus features. This DVD package only contains the actual concert footage and trailers of other Rockpalast concerts.
The stage at Rockpalast concerts is typically simple. There is standard colored stage lighting with two neon Rockpalast signs hanging over the stage.
There are no camera tracks for onstage filming or automated filming setups. Everything was filmed with analog movie cameras back then.
Guitars & Amps Used During The Show
It’s challenging to get a good look at the band’s stage equipment, but you can get quick glimpses of most of their stuff if you watch the show closely.
Roy Buchanan’s Setup
Roy only uses one guitar plugged straight into a single amp throughout the entire show. He does not use stomp boxes or a pedalboard. Instead, he turns his amplifier all the way up and uses his guitar’s volume control to regulate the amount of volume and overdrive he needs for each song.
The musical magic you hear is all coming from his talent and fingers.
For more information on stomp boxes and pedalboards, see What Is A Guitar Stomp Box – Attractive, Little, Tantalizing.
Although Roy often played a 1953 Fender Telecaster, he called “Nancy,” for this concert, he uses what appears to be a 1960’s model Tele. It has a 60’s Fender decal with a 3-ply black pickguard and a rosewood fingerboard. In addition, the guitar has a stained ash body.
The truss rod adjustment is at the far end of the neck, where it is attached to the body. It looks like the fingerboard was refitted with larger frets.
The neck pickup does not have a cover; perhaps it was removed to give it a more aggressive sound.
A small piece of white cloth is stuffed behind the guitar’s nut under the 6th (low E) string, probably to correct a problem with the nut or dampen a harmonic overtone.
He used Fender 150’s Pure Nickel Wound strings, 10-38 gauge, but he sometimes used 11’s. He did not change his strings often and was fond of saying, “I change ’em when they break.”
He most likely retired his ’53 Tele from the road by 1985.
It looks like Roy was using a nylon pick and is fond of holding it sideways to help him grip it better, create pinch harmonics and chicken picking sounds.
Buchanan always wore his guitar very high up on his chest, which looks a little uncomfortable to me. A lot of the players of his generation and before wore their guitars high up.
Roy was most likely using his trademark late 60’s (CBS – Silverface) Fender Vibrolux Reverb amp, which he often favored. It has the following specs.
- Three 7025 (12AX7 equivalent), one 12AX7, and two 12AT7 Preamp tubes
- Two 6L6GC output tubes
- One GZ34 rectifier tube
- Normal channel controls: Volume, Treble, Bass, Bright Switch
- Vibrato channel controls: Volume, Treble, Bass, Reverb, Speed, Intensity, Bright Switch
- Two 10″ Oxford 10L5 speakers
- 35 watts RMS output power
He definitely plugs into the vibrato channel.
Anthony Dumm’s Bass Guitar
Anthony Dumm is playing a Wal MK1 bass guitar, which is made in the UK.
It has a built-in pre-amp and “bespoke” hardware, including a brass 4-string retainer behind the nut. The 9 Volt preamp is in the volume and tone knob control cavity.
I didn’t really know much about Wal, so I did a little research, and here’s the deal. The company was founded in 1976 by Ian Waller. They only build 4, 5, and 6 string bass guitars. They have never built 6-string guitars.
All their guitars are hand-made and feature a pre-amp and “Wal” humbucking pickups. The pickups are hand-wound and are specially designed to work with the instrument’s active electronics.
It appears that Anthony is using an Ampeg amp on stage but I can’t verify that for sure.
John Steele: Multi-Instrumentalist
John is a multi-instrumentalist. At various points in the show, he also plays keyboards and harmonica on one song.
Steele is playing an Olympic white Strat, which looks pretty standard and non-vintage.
The amp he is using is anyone’s guess, but I think it is an old Music Man, probably a Sixty-Five 112RP. You can see the Music Man logo on the top left side of the cabinet.
Audio Specs And Quality
The audio is professionally recorded, and every instrument sounds great. There is only a PCM 2.0 stereo soundtrack on the DVD. It is well-balanced with consistently even sound field imaging when played on a Bose 5.1 surround system. There is no surround-sound audio track on the DVD.
Video Specs And Quality
The video is a 4:3 transfer to a DVD5 format, from video film footage that was pro-shot from multiple angles. As a result, the video looks clear throughout the entire concert, except for a few closeups.
All footage was shot in a manner that makes sense musically. Don’t you just hate it when someone takes a solo, and the camera is focused on a totally different band member, like the drummer? It’s pretty obvious and annoying that the cameraperson has no idea what’s happening onstage.
What I Didn’t Like
Overall, you really get your money’s worth from this DVD, but a few things could have been included or improved upon to make it a better viewer experience.
The booklet included in the package, like most Rockpalast concerts, has very little useful information. However, there is a brief biography of Roy Buchanan, 3 photos of band members, an “also available” section, a summary of people who participated in making the concert, and a tracklist.
Technical details, like the equipment used to film the show and mix the sound, or info about guitars and amps would have been appreciated. This could have been included in the booklet or the movie’s end credits.
There was only a PCM 2.0 stereo soundtrack. A remixed 5.1 surround soundtrack would have helped improve the viewer experience by giving the concert more of a live feel.
No bonus features were included on the DVD during the filming of this show. It would have been awesome to include some video of band member interviews or backstage footage.
Final Thoughts On Roy Buchanan Songs
Roy Buchanan was one of the greatest guitar players in rock and blues! He wrote and covered too many excellent songs over the course of his career to list individually in this article.
His Live At Rockpalast concert provides an excellent example of Roy’s best guitar playing and is a must-see for any guitarist who likes his music!
The concert was pro-shot, and the audio is clear throughout the show. The band is tight and dynamic-sounding, which really makes it a pleasure to watch.
An interview with Roy or some backstage footage would have added more interest to the show, but the concert easily stands on its own as a testament to Buchanan’s talents!
When Roy was found hanged by his shirt in Fairfax County Jail on August 14, 1988, being sent there after a domestic disturbance, the world lost an amazing guitar player.
Tell me YOUR favorite Roy Buchanan songs in the comment section!
For more info on Roy, see Best Telecaster Players – These Tele Masters Will Shock You!
Roy Buchanan Discography
Here is a listing of Roy’s studio, live, and compilation albums, from Wikipedia. This is an absolute treasure trove of great tunes and phenomenal guitar playing. You can use these 36 albums as a roadmap to how to become dangerous on the Telecaster!
|Buch and the Snakestretchers – 1971, BIOYA (previously available only at gigs)
|Roy Buchanan – August 1972, Polydor
|Second Album – March 1973, Polydor
|That’s What I Am Here For – November 1973, Polydor
|In the Beginning (UK title: Rescue Me) – December 1974, Polydor
|A Street Called Straight – April 1976, Atlantic
|Loading Zone – May 1977, Atlantic
|You’re Not Alone – April 1978, Atlantic
|My Babe – November 1980, Waterhouse/AJK
|When a Guitar Plays the Blues – July 1985, Alligator
|Dancing on the Edge – June 1986, Alligator
|Hot Wires – September 1987, Alligator
|Live Stock – (rec. 1974) August 1975, Polydor
|Live in Japan – 1978, Polydor
|Live: Charly Blues Legend, Vol. 9 – 1987, Charly
|Live in U.S.A. & Holland – 1991, Silver Shadow
|Charly Blues Masterworks: Roy Buchanan Live – 1999, Charly/Red X
|American Axe: Live in 1974 – 2003, Powerhouse
|Live: Amazing Grace – 2009, Powerhouse
|Live at Rockpalast – 2011, MIG Music
|Live from Austin, TX – 2012, New West
|Shredding the Blues: Live at My Father’s Place – 2014, Rockbeat
|Telemaster: Live in ’75 – 2017, Powerhouse
|Live at Town Hall 1974 – 2018, Real Gone Music
|The Best of Roy Buchanan – 1982, Polydor
|The Early Years – 1989, Krazy Kat
|Sweet Dreams: The Anthology – 1992, Polydor
|Guitar on Fire: The Atlantic Sessions – 1993, Rhino/Atlantic
|Malaguena – 1996, Annecillo
|Before And After: The Last Recordings – 1999, Rollercoaster Records UK
|Deluxe Edition: Roy Buchanan – 2001, Alligator
|20th Century Masters–The Millennium Collection: The Best of Roy Buchanan – 2002, Polydor
|The Prophet: The Unreleased First Polydor Album – 2004, Hip-O Select/UMe
|The Definitive Collection – 2006, Polydor/UMe
|Rhino Hi-Five: Roy Buchanan – 2007, Rhino/Atlantic
|After Hours: The Early Years, 1957–1962 Recordings – 2016, Soul Jam
Tell Me What You Think
Please let me know what’s on your mind in the comment section or if there is anything I can help you with.
- Have you seen Roy Buchanan, Live At Rockpalast?
- Did you see the DVD or were you at the concert?
- Did you enjoy the show?
- Which songs would you say are your 5 favorites?
- Have you seen him play on a different Roy Buchanan tour? Which one?
- Would you buy this DVD after reading this article?