Jimmie and brother Stevie Ray thankfully recorded a duo album before tragedy struck in the form of a helicopter accident that took SRV’s life in 1990. It was four years before the elder Vaughan emerged with a solo CD. The bold Strange Pleasure mixed blues with smooth soul, gospel, old-time rock and roll, and even flamenco. But his subsequent efforts, Out There and Do You Get The Blues?, were less successful, as he searched to find his voice, both vocally and compositionally.
Whereas most all-cover albums are a means to buy time while trying to come up with new material, in Vaughan’s case it’s really a return to his original vision of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, the blues band he led for 15 years. A decade before
they crossed over to rock audiences with Kim Wilson’s “Tuff Enuff,” they shook up the blues world by mining the less traveled corners of the blues repertoire – and, of course, just kicking ass.
On his first album in nine years, Vaughan covers some tried-and-true warhorses – from Little Richard, Willie Nelson, Roscoe Gordon, and even Don & Dewey’s “Leaving It Up To You,” which was a hit by Freddy Fender and even Donny and Marie Osmond – as well as lesserknown tunes by Johnny Ace and Jimmy Reed. The latter, “Come Love,” introduces a long-hidden Vaughan talent in some great, first-position harmonica blowing. And Vaughan even revisits Lonnie “Guitar Junior” Brooks’ “Roll, Roll, Roll” – rivaling the TBirds’ Butt Rockin’ rendition.
Throughout, Vaughan puts his stamp on the proceedings with his swamp-pop sting. As ever, he is a study in economy, saying more with less, though he ventures into the T-Bone Walker end of jazz with “Blues For Sale,” from Billy Eckstine’s catalog. His horn-driven original instrumental “Comin’ & Goin’” leans more towards Mickey Baker.
In addition to three duets with longtime associate Lou Ann Barton, he gives Miss Lou Ann the floor for solo readings of Little Richard’s “Send Me Some Lovin’” and LaVern Baker’s “Wheel Of Fortune,” and does likewise with organist Bill Willis, whose smooth reading injects new life into Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away.”
But when Vaughan is center-stage, his singing sounds more relaxed than ever. This may be familiar territory, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
This article originally appeared in VG’s Sept. ’10 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.