Jimmie Vaughan and The Fabulous Thunderbirds

Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites, and The Best of the Fabulous Thunderbirds: Early Birds Special (Shout! Factory)

Texas Platters

Jimmie Vaughan

Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites (Shout! Factory)

The Fabulous Thunderbirds

The Best of the Fabulous Thunderbirds: Early Birds Special (Benchmark Recordings)

Jimmie Vaughan's in his prime, so is Lou Ann Barton. That they stand side by side on the cover of Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites speaks volumes-go-to-11 about the locals' ongoing musical partnership. In the tradition of the 1960s Chess Records series The Real Folk Blues and More Real Folk Blues, the guitarist's follow-up to acclaimed 2010 comeback Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites dishes a second helping of the house special, with Barton's vocal cat scratch fever matching Vaughan like diamond cuff links. No surprise there nor here, but that's not why you come to Jimmie Vaughan and his Stratocaster. Author of modern R&B indelibles, Vaughan's a repository of such history first and foremost, with the 14 blues and ballads of More so exquisitely fine as to appear curated rather than simply chosen ("I'm in the Mood for You," "I Hang My Head and Cry," "No Use Knocking"). That's Vaughan's modus operandi since his days with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and the new Early Birds Special serves choice, tender cuts from the legendary ATX institution's first decade, hot and smoked righteously ("Marked Deck," "Scratch My Back," "Tuff Enuff"). Final track "The Rains Came," best known by the Sir Douglas Quintet version but patterned here after the original by Big Sambo & the House Wreckers, highlights Texas soul at its finest. Too bad Lou Ann Barton – the one and only Thunderbroad – never recorded with the T-Birds, but the wavelength she and Vaughan perform on these days more than compensates. (Jimmie Vaughan, with special guest Lou Ann Barton, celebrates PMBB&F at Antone's on Friday, July 22, as part of the venue's 36th anniversary.)

(Both) ***

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