Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood

American guitarist/singer Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble (Chris Layton on drums and Tommy Shannon on bass) played the 1982 Montreux Jazz Festival and caught the attention of Jackson Browne. He offered the band use of his Los Angeles recording studio; in three days they recorded a demo. This week (June 13th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Texas Flood, the solo debut multi-Platinum debut. It reached number 38 on the US Billboard Album chart.

Side one begins with “Love Struck Baby”, a song inspired by the night Vaughan moved in with his then-wife. Released as the first single from the album, this one has a classic rhythm and blues sound from the early days of rock and roll. It reminds me of Chuck Berry, another great rock guitarist, from the 50’s.

As the second single, “Pride and Joy” reached number 20 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. I remember hearing this one on the album-oriented rock station at the time; who could forget that down-and-dirty blues melody?

Vaughan‘s rendition of “Texas Flood”, nominated for a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Performance, is a cover of the 1958 blues song by Larry Davis.

Vaughan then covers “Tell Me” by Howlin’ Wolf, a Mississippi blues man who recorded the original in 1962.

“Testify” is an instrumental cover of the Isley Brothers 1964 single.

Side two opens with “Rude Mood”, which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance (it lost to Sting‘s “Brimstone and Treacle“). It was chosen for the B-side to the first single. I like the freight-train-a-rollin’ tempo this instrumental thunders along to.

“Mary Had a Little Lamb” was written and first recorded by Chicago blues man Buddy Guy. This one, naturally, takes the classic nursery rhyme and infuses it with a whole lot of cool.

“Dirty Pool” brims with betrayal; the music really goes right to the soul on a very primal level.

Tears goes right along hand and hand with the blues, so “I’m Crying” is right at home here. It has a lot in common, rhythmically, with the earlier “Pride and Joy”.

The closing slow and lovely instrumental track “Lenny” was written for Vaughan’s wife at the time Lenora.

Stevie Ray Vaughan is an amazing blues guitarist and that makes his debut Texas Flood an enjoyable listening experience. If you have never heard it before and enjoy the blues, you will definitely want to give this one a listen.


HERC said...

My wife's oldest brother has been inducted into both the Arizona Blues Hall Of Fame (which mistakingly posted a photo of a similarly named California artist on his page) and the Tucson Musicians Museum (with a correct photo). In the 30+ years I have known the man, he's turned me on to some great music.

I was dating his other sister [read the whole story] when we met and she mentioned to him that I was a big music fan. One night, I was over at their house and he came up from behind, scaring us both probably on purpose as we were sitting on the couch in the dark watching Friday Night Videos and dropped a short stack of albums in my lap and said something like "Give these a listen".

Now I can't remember a couple of those albums - and he did ask for them back about a week later - but these are the ones I haven't forgotten:

The Robert Cray Band's Bad Influence
Bonnie Raitt's Green Light
Weather Report's 1982 self-titled album
Ry Cooder's The Slide Area
Rory Gallagher's Jinx
Jaco Pastorius's Word Of Mouth
The Blasters's self-titled debut
and SRV and Double Trouble's Texas Flood

To the best of my recollection, it was the first time I had heard any of those artists EXCEPT Stevie Ray Vaughan, who had caught my ear on Bowie's Let's Dance, and The Blasters, who had performed on both Fridays and American Bandstand. I might have seen Bonnie Raitt on The Midnight Special or either (both?) of the shows above, too.

Been a fan of all those acts ever since then but especially of Robert Cray, The Blasters and Stevie Ray. I'm the guy that buys every iteration of Vaughan's albums - remastered, bouns tracks, special editions and the 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition of Texas Flood released earlier this year with bonus live disc.

Lawrence (his friends call him "Larry" while his family calls him "Lawrence") celebrates a his first half century on Earth today (June 14) - I'm treating him to his favorite BBQ - so it seemed serendipitous that you wrote about Texas Flood which actually peaked at #38 on the Billboard 200.

Thanks for triggering another great memory my friend.

Martin Maenza said...

Great story, thanks. And chart position corrected as well. I appreciate that.