Stevie Ray Vaughan & Friends
Solos, Sessions & Encores
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2007, Volume 14, #11
Written by John Metzger
Mon November 19, 2007, 06:50 AM CST
Like a lot of albums that fuse previously issued songs to material that never was meant to be released, Solos, Sessions & Encores, the latest offering from the archives of Stevie Ray Vaughan, is a bit of a mess. As it progresses from track to track, it also moves from studio sessions to concert halls and back again. Consequently, the results are sometimes jarring and disorienting, and although there are bits and pieces of the collection that seem to want to stick together, there really isnít any flow or overriding organization to the mayhem that ensues. Yet, for fans of Vaughan as well as the blues, itís impossible not to get lost within most of the individual selections.
Over the course of his all-too-brief career, Vaughan never truly received the respect that he deserved as an artist. Part of the problem undeniably revolved around his underdeveloped abilities as a songwriter. He never completely found his voice, and, perhaps knowing this, he augmented his own serviceable compositions with a steady stream of classic rock and blues cover tunes. The other side of the equation was that, once he was propelled into the limelight, his ascent was so rapid and the media attention was so tremendous that many purists remained skeptical of his intentions. He also, then, found himself trying to balance his own interests with the inherent limitations and expectations that mainstream acceptance thrust upon him.
Disjointed as they may be, each track on Solos, Sessions & Encores is a self-contained nugget that not only provides a glimpse into the past but also highlights the many angled perspectives from which Vaughan viewed the blues. He settles comfortably into the flow of the studio cuts, including Marcia Ballís swinging, horn-dappled arrangement of Soulful Dress and Dick Daleís full-steam-ahead, surf-guitar-style romp through Pipeline. Likewise, his contributions to David Bowieís Letís Dance will make a whole lot more sense to some folks after they hear the funky refrains of A.C. Reedís Miami Strut. In each case, Vaughan is a rather gracious accompanist, and although he raises the intensity of the material with his fiery guitar licks, he never steals the show from his hosts.
There is no doubt, too, that Vaughan loved to perform. He was most comfortable standing on stage, his guitar in hand, sinking into the slipstream of a song. Not surprisingly, the concert material that is featured on Solos, Sessions & Encores is nothing short of stellar. Throughout the set, he spars with and supports his heroes ó including Albert Collins (Albertís Shuffle), Jeff Beck (Goiní Down), Lonnie Mack (Oreo Cookie Blues), and the triumvirate of Albert King, B.B. King, and Paul Butterfield (The Sky Is Crying). Rather than trying to upstage any of them, however, he engaged his fellow guitarists in a collaborative effort to push the blues wherever it would lead, and more often than not, the journey was quite thrilling. Ĺ
Of Further Interest...
Solos, Sessions & Encores is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box