Years ago, in a BBC documentary about his former bandleader, bassist Noel Redding held up all the albums that Jimi Hendrix released during his lifetime (five, not counting Cry Of Love, which he was working on at the time of his death) alongside a huge stack of posthumous releases of varying quality and provenance – one point being that Jimi was being exploited and his catalog diluted.
In his lifetime, Stevie Ray Vaughan released four studio albums and one live album with Double Trouble, and he completed work on the Vaughan Brothers’ Family Style,/I>, issued just weeks after his death. Since then, a steady stream of product has come out (compilations, live recordings, alternate and unissued tracks), and while the quality of the music has invariably been high, the presentation has sometimes been lacking.
There are indeed some real gems included here, beginning with the one and only time he jammed with both Albert and B.B. King, on “The Sky Is Crying,” for B.B.’s 1987 TV special (which also happened to be one of the last performances of harp great Paul Butterfield, who also takes a vocal turn). To quote the show’s title, this is “Blistering Blues,” no doubt about it.
Also included are studio sessions Stevie did with fellow Texans Marcia Ball, Johnny Copeland, and Bill Carter, and live performances with two more Texans, Albert Collins and Katie Webster. And there’s his “Saturday Night Live” appearance, with brother Jimmie joining Double Trouble on “Change It”; his surf jam with Dick Dale on “Pipeline,” from the forgettable bit of cinematic fluff, Back To The Beach; an incendiary 1984 showdown with Jeff Beck on Freddie King’s “Going Down”; and the cut that introduced him to the world at large, David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.”
But as top-drawer as the music (compiled by Bob Irwin) is, the package appears to be slapped together in several respects. There are no cut-by-cut personnel listings, even though most if not all are readily available. And “You Can Have My Husband,” a pre-Texas Flood track from Double Trouble’s first studio attempt at an album, is credited to singer Lou Ann Barton. This is inaccurate and misleading. The track was part of an album’s worth of tunes cut in Nashville in ’78, with the original edition of Double Trouble (after the dissolution of Triple Threat Revue), with Stevie, Lou Ann, drummer Chris Layton, and bassist Jackie Newhouse. That this isn’t listed as Double Trouble, coupled with the fact that Barton was left off the SRV boxed set, is either sloppy or a little bit fishy.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Apr ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.