Jimmie Vaughan, for better or worse, will always be compared with his younger brother, Stevie Ray. Not only was Stevie Ray one of the better guitarists of his generation but his untimely death in a helicopter crash at the age of 35 has elevated him to almost mythological status.
Jimmie Vaughan may not have received the accolades his brother has, but with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, his collaborations with Stevie Ray, and as a solo artist, he has carved out his own exemplary career and proved he belongs in the forefront of his generation’s most talented blues guitarists.
Vaughan has just released the follow-up to his acclaimed 2010 album Blues, Ballads & Favorites. He has recorded 16 more cover songs and aptly named the album
More Blues, Ballads & Favorites. He even brings along old Stevie Ray sidekick Lou Ann Barton to provide assistance on some of the vocals.
When Jimmie Vaughan picks up his guitar, it is a return to the smoky blues bars of the past where the music was energetic, loose, gritty, raw and passionate. He is a guitar technician; his notes have an individual clarity that can be heard and digested before disappearing into the whole.
The album begins with the frenetic rocker “I Ain’t Never.” It reminds me of Jerry Lee Lewis at his rocking best with Vaughan’s guitar replacing Lewis’ pumping piano. Throw in a sax solo and you have a high-powered opener. The album ends with a live version of the old Faye Adams rhythm & blues classic “Shake A Hand,” with Barton assuming lead vocal duties with her pure blues voice.
Between the two aforementioned tracks are an eclectic group of 14 blues classics. “No Use Knocking” is a slow blues tune which includes a duet with Barton. Throw in some signature guitar solos with some brass in support and you have a memorable track. “Teardrop Blues” is slower tune right out of the delta with a sultry sax in support. The most intriguing track is a blues interpretation of the old Neil Sedaka pop hit, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.”
The song choices and music meander along, but all of the material is rooted in the American Blues. Two tracks made famous by Bobby Charles join “Rains Came,” which was a Doug Sahm re-working of the original by Big Sambo and The House Wreckers. Vaughan also reaches back into New Orleans R&B history for covers of two Annie Laurie tunes, “It’s Been A Long Time” and “I’m In The Mood For You.” Throw in Hank Williams’ “I Hang My Head And Cry” and Ray Charles’ “Greenbacks” and you have the makings of a superior blues album.
Jimmie Vaughan has produced a joyful album of blues songs. He once again proves that while he may not be the best-known guitarist working today, he is one of music’s most adept.