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30 Years Ago Today: SRV gets “In Step”

SRV In StepStevie Ray Vaughan’s status as a legendary blues rocker was already established when In Step hit stores in 1989. Sadly, it would be his last album with Double Trouble before his untimely death in August, 1990.

The record produced four singles: “Crossfire,” which hit #1 on the US Rock chart, “The House is Rockin’,” “Wall of Denial,” and “Tightrope.” The album itself peaked at #33 on the Billboard 200 and Vaughan won the 1990 Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album.

The influence of Stevie Ray Vaughan lives on in the music of blues rock artists such as Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Joe Bonamassa. SRV keyboardist Reese Wynans released an album called Sweet Release in March of this year, featuring two covers from In Step: “Crossfire” with Shepherd on guitar, and “Riviera Paradise” with Shepherd and Bonamassa.

35 Years Ago Today: SRV drops his second studio album

SRV Couldnt Stand The WeatherThe second studio album from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Couldn’t Stand The Weather was released on May 15, 1984. The record peaked at #31 on the Billboard 200 chart and the title track’s video received regular airplay on MTV. The group also shot a video for “Cold Shot,” the first song on side two of the album. Vaughan was a huge fan of Jimi Hendrix and included his own version of the Hendrix classic “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” on Couldn’t Stand The Weather.

In the early morning hours on Monday, August 27, 1990, following an all-star jam in Wisconsin, Vaughan was tragically killed in a helicopter crash, along with the pilot Jeff Brown, agent Bobby Brooks, bodyguard Nigel Browne, and tour manager Colin Smythe. SRV was only 35 years old.

R.I.P. B.B. King

(September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015)

The most legendary of all blues guitar players, B.B. King passed away last night of complications from diabetes. Best known for “The Thrill is Gone,” King was 89.

Photoset: Buddy Guy (August 16, 2013 @ PNC Pavilion, Cincinnati OH)

Buddy Guy concert photographs PNC Pavilion Cincinnati Ohio 2013

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Various Artists – True Blues (2013)

True Blues

Various Artists
True Blues
Telarc, 2013
52 minutes

“Blues is the blueprint. It’s the foundation of all contemporary music, no matter where you go.” Corey Harris speaks the truth.

On True Blues, Telarc brings together six talented and timeless blues acts: Harris, The Taj Mahal Trio, Shemekia Copeland, Guy Davis, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Phil Wiggins. These artists attack the listener’s emotions with heartfelt songs, including the classics “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Motherless Children Have a Hard Time,” and “Gallows Pole.” Copeland, the daughter of blues legend Johnny Clyde Copeland, delivers a heart-wrenching performance on “Bring Your Fine Self Home.” Phil Wiggins and Alvin Youngblood Hart likewise pull on the heartstrings with “Roberta.”

True Blues was recorded live at various venues throughout the United States, and a companion DVD is planned for a summer release. The compact disc is perfect for any fan of the blues, and would be a good primer for introducing younger music lovers to this genre that is, as Copeland says, “constantly evolving and growing.”

View the trailer for True Blues:

1. Hoochie Coochie Man (Guy Davis, Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Phil Wiggins)
2. Motherless Children Have A Hard Time (Alvin Youngblood Hart)
3. Everybody Got To Change Sometime (Corey Harris)
4. Done Changed My Way Of Living (The Taj Mahal Trio)
5. Saturday Blues (Guy Davis)
6. Bring Your Fine Self Home (Shemekia Copeland with Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Phil Wiggins)
7. Roberta (Phil Wiggins with Alvin Youngblood Hart)
8. C.C. Pill Blues (Corey Harris)
9. Prayers and Praises (Phil Wiggins)
10. Gallows Pole (Alvin Youngblood Hart)
11. That’s No Way To Get Along (Guy Davis)
12. Mailbox Blues (The Taj Mahal Trio)
13. Ramblin’ On My Mind (Shemekia Copeland, Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Phil Wiggins)

Learn more about Telarc.

Purchase True Blues.

Albert King – Born Under A Bad Sign (2013)

Albert King Born Under A Bad Sign 2013 reissue reviewed

Albert King
Born Under A Bad Sign
Stax Records, 2013
49 minutes

More than forty years since its initial release, Albert King’s Born Under A Bad Sign still stands as one of the greatest blues collections in history. Backed by Booker T. & the MG’s, King wails on the classic title track, “The Hunter,” and “I Almost Lost My Mind.” Stax really delivers by including five previously unreleased bonus tracks on this re-issue, featuring an additional verse on “Crosscut Saw” and an untitled instrumental composition to close the album.

Deanie Parker’s original liner notes are included, as well as Michael Point’s notes from the 2002 reissue and a new introduction written for this edition by Bill Dahl. Remastered albums that do not offer anything new are an insult to fans, and Stax evidently recognizes this. The company has done a great job in bringing Albert King’s music into the 21st century, complete with new treats for longtime fans of the blues master.

1. Born Under A Bad Sign
2. Crosscut Saw
3. Kansas City
4. Oh, Pretty Woman
5. Down Don’t Bother Me
6. The Hunter
7. I Almost Lost My Mind
8. Personal Manager
9. Laundromat Blues
10. As The Years Go Passing By
11. The Very Thought Of You
12. Born Under A Bad Sign (Take 1 – Alternate)
13. Crosscut Saw (Take 1 – Alternate)
14. The Hunter (Take 1 – Alternate)
15. Personal Manager (Take 15 – Alternate)
16. Untitled Instrumental

Learn more about Stax Records.

Purchase Albert King – Born Under a Bad Sign.

Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls (2012)

Alabama Shakes

Alabama Shakes
Boys & Girls
ATO Records, 2012
39 minutes

Cautious optimism seems to be the attitude many critics are taking toward the new band Alabama Shakes. The band is fronted by Brittany Howard, who brings to mind Janis Joplin, Etta James, and Aretha Franklin almost simultaneously. While the sound is firmly rooted in the past and could easily be mistaken for a long-lost gem from the 1970s with a cursory listen, there is an underlying vibe that is undeniably contemporary. Boys & Girls is a beautiful blend of traditional blues, powerful soul, and classic rock with modern sensibility.

The album opener, “Hold On,” is an earworm that might get stuck in your head for days, but you won’t regret it. The band continues to shine deep into the album; “Rise To The Sun” and “Heartbreaker” are fantastic cuts. “Be Mine” would be the best song on the album if it weren’t for one unnecessary profanity. The weakest track is “Goin’ To The Party,” not quite fitting in with the rest of the recording.

By all accounts, Boys & Girls is a subdued performance compared to the live show. If true, an Alabama Shakes concert must be a spectacular experience. Check out their tour dates and make plans to see these rising stars.

1. Hold On
2. I Found You
3. Hang Loose
4. Rise To The Sun
5. You Ain’t Alone
6. Goin’ To The Party
7. Heartbreaker
8. Boys & Girls
9. Be Mine
10. I Ain’t The Same
11. On Your Way

Watch the video for “Hold On” below:

Learn more about Alabama Shakes.

Learn more about ATO Records.

Purchase Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls.

IT’S FRIDAY!!! (part 10)

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ would sound so good as a blues song”? Yeah, me neither. But someone did…

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