Thursday, June 13, 2013

texas flood

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble brought the blues back with this tempestuous tour de force.  The power trio had become the first act that was unsigned and unrecorded to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival.  Although the crowd was mostly unappreciative of their show, they caught the attention of two music legends that would be pivotal in their career:  Jackson Browne and David Bowie.  Browne offered them the use of his studio to make a demo and Bowie asked Vaughan to play on his 'Let's Dance' album.  The demo sessions took place over three days during the Thanksgiving holiday at Down Town Studio with Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar and vocals; Tommy Shannon on bass; and Chris Layton on drums.  

Shannon shares:  "It really was just a big warehouse with concrete floors and some rugs thrown down. We just found a little corner, set up in a circle looking at and listening to each other and played like a live band ... Stevie said that we waited all of our lives to make that first record.  After that, making records was work.”

Layton considers:   “We didn’t know we were making a record.  We basically played all the songs we had been playing at the gigs. We’d record something, listen to it, and if it sounded good we’d go on to the next song.”

Shortly after the demo sessions Vaughan began working with Bowie for what would become the most successful album of his career.  That success brought increased visibility to Vaughan and the band and those demos eventually found their way to John Hammond, who got them signed to Epic Records.  The label had the band remaster the demos with vocals re-recorded at Riverside Sound in Austin, Texas.  The band produced the album with engineer Richard Mullen.  

Vaughan recounts the development of his style:   “I started out trying to copy licks from Lonnie Mack records. He was a really big influence for me. And my older brother Jimmie used to bring home records by B.B. and Albert King, Albert Collins and guys like Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy ... all of 'em. I didn't hear as much of Johnny Winter as a lot of people around Texas. I'm not sure why. I remember seeing his picture and stuff on posters around town, but I really didn't hear that much of him...I loved Jimi [Hendrix] a lot. He was so much more than just a blues guitarist. He could do anything. I was about sixteen when he died. I could do some of his stuff by then but actually I’ve been trying to find out what he was doing more so lately than I was then. Now I'm really learning how to do it and I'm trying to expand on it ... not that I can expand on it a whole bunch. But I try...I took music theory for one year in high school and flunked all but one six-week period.  That's because I couldn't read music and the rest of the class was already eight or nine years into it. The teacher would sit down and hit a ten-fingered chord on the piano and you had to write all the notes down in about ten seconds. I just couldn't do it. It was more like math to me.  A lot of the songs I write now … I don’t even know what key they're in. I have to ask somebody to find out. I can play it, I just can't name it. Jazz changes and all. But I don't know the names of what it is I’m doing ... There’s no easy ways, man.  You gotta learn the hard parts for yourself.”

'Texas Flood' eventually surged to number sixty-four in the US and was nominated for a Grammy Award for  Best Traditional Blues Recording with 'Rude Mood' receiving a nod for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. The album helped to usher in a new appreciation for blues music.

'Texas Flood'

full album:

All songs written by Stevie Ray Vaughan, except where noted.

Side One
"Love Struck Baby" – 2:24
"Pride and Joy" – 3:40
"Texas Flood" (Larry Davis, Joseph Wade Scott) – 5:21
"Tell Me" (Howlin' Wolf) – 2:49
"Testify" (instrumental) (Ronald Isley, O'Kelly Isley, Jr., Rudolph Isley) – 3:25
Side Two
"Rude Mood" (instrumental) – 4:40
"Mary Had a Little Lamb" (Buddy Guy) – 2:47
"Dirty Pool" (Doyle Bramhall, Vaughan) – 5:02
"I'm Cryin'" – 3:42
"Lenny" (instrumental)  – 4:58

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