When Vaughan hit the national scene in the "Year of Our New Wave" 1983 with "Texas Flood," the last thing anybody was looking for was a longhaired, cowboy-hat-wearing guitar slinger. Tough Texan Vaughan, though, was more than speed-dial virtuosity and strings stretched to submission; he had irresistible energy, inventive urgency, sweet guitar phrasing and tone, tremendous love for Albert King and blues feeling to spare.
Mastered from the original source tapes for the first time, 10-tracks that lie more in the "slow blues" category appear on the surprising release "Blues At Sunrise." For any Vaughanabee, news of ANY SRV release immediately draws interest from the converted, which, of course, will never feel worthy.
Nearly a decade has passed since SRV's death, yet his presence looms large at the crossroads of blues, rock and jazz. This CD goes a long way in explaining why, including four tracks from his four original RIAA platinum and multi-platinum Epic studio records ("Texas Flood," "Couldn't Stand the Weather," "Soul to Soul," "In Step").
"Ain't Gone 'N' Give Up On Love" tastily gets things started with an up-tempo 12/8 beat and barrel full of rich seventh and ninth chords. The soulfulness, ferocity and immediacy of the modern Chicago blues sound practically oozes from every note of SRV's solo on Buddy Guy's "Leave My Girl Alone." Naturally, the influence of some of the greatest players working out of the Chicago scene is discernable…the urbane runs of Riley "B.B." King, the unbridled spirit and abandon of Guy, the bending riffs of Otis Rush, just to mention a representative handful. The tipping of his hat to the slide guitar styles of Hound Dog Taylor and Muddy Waters can also be heard on this cut in SRV's quivering non-supported vibrato.
From the 1985 Montreux Jazz Festival gig comes an appropriate tribute to fellow Texas-bred bluesman Johnny Copeland (who passed away in 1997) on the previously unreleased jam "Tin Pan Alley (a.k.a. Roughest Place in Town)." There are some special moments on this tune: Vaughan's guitar intro as well as his laugh to Copeland after his crowd shows respect to the legend after he sings the second lead vocal line-pretty cool.
From the Sony Music home video "Live at the El Mocambo" and appearing for the first time on CD comes a latter-day version of "Texas Flood," (his tone is so incredible on this take it makes you shake your head and rewind it for some more; he had the BEST guitar tone) written by Larry Davis during his 1960s stint in Albert King's band. Also appearing for the first time anywhere is an outtake of "The Sky Is Crying" from the "Couldn't Stand the Weather" sessions.
When one looks back on the late 1980s and early 1990s with a new, clean SRV swinging for the fences, who would have ever figured that right before he was on the verge of reaching a whole new level of greatness, he died in a 1990 helicopter crash.
His death was possibly the greatest loss to the music industry in the last decade.
www.epicrecords.com/srv or www.legacyrecordings.com
This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.