Vaughan, Stevie Ray and Double Trouble
"Solos, Sessions & Encores "

SRV Plays Sideman, (03/12/08)

This latest release from Stevie Ray Vaughan features the Texas axe-man mostly as a sideman. Vaughan jams with various artists on fourteen tracks, some from the studio and others that were live performances, unfortunately only six tracks are previously unreleased.

The disc opens nicely from a previously released DVD, B.B King & Friends. It's cool to hear B.B. King introduce the audience to "some new blood with the Blues" as Vaughan trades vocals and leads with Albert Collins and B.B. King, plus harmonica player Paul Butterfield on "The Sky Is Crying." Next up is Marcia Ball who sings "Soulful Dress," which is the title track from her 1984 release. Johnny Copeland's "Don't Stop By The Creek, Son," is a boogie that moves along at quick pace. A.C. Reed's funky instrumental "Miami Strut" has always been one of my favorites and feature's Vaughan as a session player It is a welcome addition here. "Na-Na-Ne-Na-Nay" by Bill Carter finds Vaughan working solidly behind a tight horn section.

The next track is from the outstanding previously released SRV four-CD box set, where you'll hear Jeff Beck jamming with Vaughan on "Goin' Down" followed by six previously unreleased (and mostly poorly recorded) tunes. Vaughan and Lonnie Mack blast through "Oreo Cookie Blues," then Vaughan plays with Katie Webster on "On the Run," which was recorded at the 1988 New Orleans JazzFest. Next we hear Vaughan trading licks with the great Albert Collins on a hot instrumental entitled "Albert's Shuffle," then brother Jimmy Vaughan teams up with Stevie on Doyle Bramhall's "Change It." The oldest track included here is Lou Ann Barton's "You Can Have My Husband," recorded while Vaughan was working in Nashville around 1978 with Barton and W.C. Clark. More audio issues rage on with Bonnie Raitt on "Texas Flood," recorded at the 1985 Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, Washington.

It's back to the recording studio for the two closing tracks, starting with Dick Dale and SRV firing through "Pipeline," taken from the soundtrack of Back to the Beach. Then it's David Bowie's huge hit "Let's Dance," which is an odd choice considering the Bluesyness of most of the previous tracks. One man's opinion, but if Epic/Legacy found it absolutely necessary to have a Bowie/SRV track on this compilation, they would have been better off with "China Girl" from the same Bowie disc.

Missing in action from this SRV as sideman recording is the long-out-of-print Blue Note release of Bennie Wallace's Twilight Time (produced by Wallace, Dr. John, and Joel Dorn) where SRV is a smoking sideman on two tracks, Wallace's "All Night Dance," and R.M. Jones' "Trouble in Mind." Note: Bernard "Pretty" Purdie is the drummer on both of these long-lost gems and also onboard are Dr. John, John Scofield, and Bob Cranshaw. Good luck in trying to find a copy of Twilight Time. All the more reason why these two Twilight Time tracks would have added a lot of value to this recording.

In summary, Solos, Sessions & Encores provides a varied mix of genre styles with a wide range of artists with whom Vaughan worked over the years. But less than half of the tracks are previously unreleased and considering the $19 list price, I found this set disappointing. Die-hard SRV fans (who probably have all of the previously released tunes) might consider downloading the music they don't have from the usual .99 per track websites.

Bob Putignano: