Repertoire Records [Release date 05:2013]
Perhaps only Jimmy Vaughan could cut a trio of albums that started with a nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album Award (‘Strange Pleasure’) , nearly won the Best Rock Instrumental Performance Award for ‘The Ironic Twist’ (‘Out There’) and finished with ‘Do You Get The Blues?’ which actually won the Best Traditional Blues Album Award.
As Jimmie said recently; ‘when you love music from a particular era you don’t have to search very hard’. And given that his passion is routed in the 50’s and early 60’s, he’s made a good job of bending various blues related genres to his own ends.
‘Strange Pleasure’ featured lots of new ideas with a retro twist, and then he penned three quarters of a cross section of blues styles on his second album, before turning his attention to the bluesier aspects of jazz. The net result is plenty of cool grooves, effortless shuffles, occasional spirited duets, and plenty of laid back but incisive guitar playing, over three albums within his chosen trio format.
‘Six Strings Down’, the moving ode to his brother Stevie Ray on ‘Strange Pleasure’ compasses several of those strands in a country, blues, gospel mélange and a role call of fallen guitar giants.
Released 4 years after Stevie’s death, it was an album born of reticence and it took Clapton no less, to encourage Jimmie to step out in his own right. And if the result wasn’t quite the fired up album some might have expected, there’s still good rocking on the opening ‘Boom-Baya Boom’, economical playing on the ‘Flamenco Dancer’ – which is actually a hefty shuffle – and a lovely after hours feel to ‘Tilt-A Whirl’. It’s an impeccably played debut album with gospel tinged bv’s .
4 years later, ‘Out There’ consolidated Jimmy’s push towards American Heritage music, or the blues by any other name. By now he was confident enough of his fans loyalty to effectively cut a blues showcase. It’s delivered with the touch of a master, though the best moments are fleeting rather than substantial and are tempered by an MOR feel that borders on the languid.
Nothing touches the vigour and party feel of the opening Nile Rogers produced ‘Like A King’, though the Greg Piccalo’s horn blown party instrumental ‘The Ironic Twist’ tries hard.
Jimmy aims for a mellow Robert Cray meets Al Green soul synthesis on the Dr. John co-write ‘Lost In You’, but the title track is possibly the best barometer of his laid back approach. For the rest, there’s an early Little Richard influenced ‘Positively Meant To Be’, Johnny Guitar Watson’s ‘Motor Head Baby’ and the clichéd ‘Kinky Woman’, which is still a signature shuffle on an album packed with good playing and style, if not original ideas.
‘Do You Get The Blues?’ continues the retro blues feel of the previous album but within the jazzy spectrum of the genre. ‘Dirty Girl’ seems to be a musical and thematic cousin of the preceding album’s ‘Kinky Girl’, while two duets with former T-Bird vocalist Lou Ann Barton – the stinging Texas shuffle of ‘Out Of The Shadows’ and the uplifting ‘Power Of Love’ – achieve what he calls that “’boy/girl duet thing.”
The slide led ‘The Deep End’ is a fine down-home blues work out, with Jimmy flanked by James Cotton on harp and Greg Sain on accompanying vocals, and ‘Without You’ is full of delicate notes and Jimmy’s best soulful vocal. He leans into the funky percussive feel of ‘Let Me In’, mixes acoustic guitar and flute on the jazzy cool of ‘Don’t Let The Sun Set’ and up’s the tempo on the gospel tinged shuffle ‘Robbin’ Me Blind’.
‘Do You Get The Blues?’ subtly ebbs, flows, and finally smoulders, or as Jimmy simply puts it; “we just play. We’re old timers doing our stuff’.
Review by Pete Feenstra
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
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