Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Feb. 15, 2013
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double TroubleTexas Flood Legacy Edition (Epic/Legacy)
Shocking. Thirty years ago feels almost ancient now, prehistoric. Like it might as well be the 1930s, when Delta blues inventors Charley Patton and Robert Johnson still walked the earth. And yet, 1983 not only stirred up those ghosts with Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble's debut Texas Flood, the whole of the blues sat up, if not from beyond the grave then from its armchairs and obscurity to the bandstands in-between. T-Bone Walker, Johnny Winter, and Jimmie Vaughan in the Fabulous Thunderbirds defined the Lone Star bloodline of the genre's (oaken) family tree, but in the latter's Dallas-born little brother, the blues strode onto MTV. Even the acronym fit: SRV. If any century begins and/or ends within a 20-year swing either way of the actual dateline, our post-millennial tech era begins at the union of music and television. With his trademark sombrero pulled low and serape thrown back, Austin's Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tommy Shannon, and Chris Layton brought Muddy, Jimi, and the three Kings (B.B., Albert, and Freddie) into the digital age on the frontman guitarist's hurricane flurry of shuffles, slides, and New Wave-defying string-bending. This 30th anniversary Texas Flood Legacy Edition finds those grooves still worn down to the nub, but its opening combo of "Love Struck Baby" and "Pride and Joy" today sounds like standards – pop songs composed for Stratocasters. Dizzying solos on the title track signal the emergence of a new standard bearer, warmth and facility of tone emptying into a blistering wormhole of blues. Howlin' Wolf cover "Tell Me" showcases Vaughan's woozy fusion of rhythm and lead, while huffing shuffle "Rude Mood" rifles an instrumental so silky fast and sure that it feels as though its author just invented the ballpoint pen. Languid backside bookend, "Lenny," and bonus track "Tin Pan Alley (aka Roughest Place in Town)" set like the sun. The second disc, an hour-long radio simulcast from that same year, plays out pleasingly raw, rough edges intact and Hendrix's "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" connecting the dots for a new generation of blues lovers. Stevie Ray Vaughan died seven years later in a post-concert helicopter crash, and today Gary Clark Jr. assumes his mantle, but SRV birthed 21st century blues as sure as music defines the Texas state capital.