Albert King Stevie Ray Vaughan
" Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan: In Session "
Stax Records

Blueswax 8
Rating 8

Encore performance by two blues heavyweights, (09/09/09)

The first version of this CD recorded in 1983 originally surfaced on Stax records in 1999, which was then owned by the Milestone-Fantasy-Prestige group. That disc subsequently has been deleted, but Concord Records who purchased Milestone-Fantasy-Prestige has digitally remastered In Session and reissued this interesting pairing of two titans. Strange that this CD went out of print, as it sold more than three hundred thousand units and reached number one on the Billboard Blues charts, but that was 1999, so its cool to have this baby readily available again in 2009. I always felt King Albert never got his just deserts. Contrarily, Stevie Ray Vaughan did, but the King is in full control here. Yet its obvious Vaughan is enthralled with his hero, as Vaughan's only vocal inclusion is "Pride and Joy." All the other tunes are from the Albert King's songbook. King and Vaughan seem to be having a ball jamming through a lengthy (9:00) cover of T-Bone Walker's "Call It Stormy Monday," B.B.'s "Ask Me No Questions" which is particularly spirited. Albert's classic "Blues At Sunrise" is also chunky (15:10,) as is "Overall Junction" (8:04) also authored by Albert, as is "Match Box Blues" (7:55.) The closing funky cover of Hudson Whittaker's "Don't Lie To Me," leaves you definitely crying out for more. Be sure to check out Albert digging Vaughan too, when he yells out to Stevie; "I'm ready to turn it over to you, I've got to sit back and watch you."

Perhaps Lee Hildebrand's liner notes say it best: "The sixty-year-old Albert ruled over the proceedings like a benevolent father, retaining control while allowing his guest loads of space in which to display his awesome command of the electric guitar. Stevie avoided flaunting his prowess, however, and instead delivered some of the most deliciously restrained playing of his career, laying back when his mentor dictated, turning up the heat only when Albert deemed it appropriate. The interplay between the two Blues masters is uncannily empathetic." Hildebrand goes on to say, "Albert was, in a sense, passing the torch to Stevie."

King continued to record and tour until his death from a heart attack in Memphis in 1992 when he was just sixty-nine. Vaughan was less fortunate, as on August 27, 1990, he was killed in a helicopter crash; SRV was just about half of Albert's passing age, leaving us at thirty-five years too young. Unfortunately, In Session is their only known recording together, but thanks to Concord/Stax, this disc lives on and on.

Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at Bob maybe contacted at:

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