Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
After the ’60s British blues boom, where white English musicians took that black American music genre into new, amplified directions, and then continued into the following decade, the blues fell on hard times by the end of the ’70s. Sure, there were still plenty of blues artists releasing great albums to the converted, but their appeal was limited. Other than Delaware’s George Thorogood, whose muscular blues-rock was getting significant airplay, mainstream radio had no interest in the blues until Stevie Ray Vaughan emerged from Texas in 1983 (via a high-profile gig as David Bowie’s lead guitarist on his Let’s Dance album), along with his band Double Trouble, and took over the world with his multi-platinum debut, Texas Flood. His fierce, virtuosic guitar playing jumped out of stereo speakers and grabbed you by the throat (it still does), but he was more than just a shredder and his music has held up for nearly four decades (and nearly 30 years after his life was tragically cut short). Read below for my earlier comments about that amazing record.
For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.
From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 2:
I don’t think I fully appreciated the enormity of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar prowess when I first heard “Pride And Joy” on the radio in 1983. There was so much good music being played on rock radio at the time, old & new, so it was just another cool song with excellent guitar work. It wasn’t until I heard his debut album that I understood how special he was. In addition to his instrumental abilities, he helped revitalize the mostly dormant “blues” genre by exposing it to the public via regular airplay and shining a light on specific artists who influenced him via cover versions interspersed among his original compositions. Larry Davis’ late-‘50s song “Texas Flood” is a highlight of this album (and SRV’s career), Howlin’ Wolf’s “Tell Me” is given a swinging shuffle groove and Buddy Guy’s “Mary Had A Little Lamb” is tight & funky, and features Stevie’s playful vocal performance. The vocal-free album closer “Lenny,” a jazzy tune with obvious nods to Jimi Hendrix’s ballads, shows another side to him and his underrated band, Double Trouble (drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon). Perhaps the only misstep on Texas Flood is “I’m Cryin’,” which is a nice song but a little too similar to the superior “Pride And Joy.” Otherwise, this is quite a powerful introduction to an incredible talent, and I consider myself fortunate that I got to see him in concert twice before his untimely death in 1990.
I can’t imagine any self-respecting music fan who wouldn’t at least appreciate Stevie Ray Vaughan’s music, while the majority realize that he was a one-of-a-kind talent and love listening to his music as much as I do. Are you one of those people? If so, were you a fan immediately or did you discover him later on? He’s had many imitators but in my opinion no one has come close to SRV.
Satur-debut will return in two weeks. Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers and their loved ones.