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Stevie Ray Vaughan (or SRV as he is often known) was an Austin guitarist/singer/songwriter, releasing only five studio albums before his life was untimely ended in a helicopter crash. With his unique guitar tone and individual style, Stevie is still considered one of the greatest rock-blues guitarist of all time, regularly featuring in various 'Top Guitarist' polls and continuing to inspire players young and old to this day.
Eventually going on to appear on albums for the likes of Davie Bowie and Jackson Browne, 'Texas Flood' was his and his band Double Trouble, (Chris Layton on drums and Tommy Shannon on bass) debut album. Originally released in 1983, here we have a remastered version released in 1999, with some Bonus Tracks thrown in for good measure.
A mixture of originals and covers, 'Texas Flood' demonstrated SRV's technical abilities and soulful playing. With both upbeat songs, such as 'Pride And Joy', as well as more typical blues songs, such as 'Dirty Pool', the album takes the listener through an audio adventure of tone, emotion and style. Stevie's voice is as much a part of his style and sound as his guitar playing and this album shows how passionately he would sing. Combined with the superb backing of Layton and Shannon, the songs are easy to listen to, demanding as much attention as you wish to put in. Pleasant to have on as backing music, but equally enjoyable to focus on, I always find myself moved by Stevie's tone of voice and guitar. I think the album works on many levels, being relaxing after a long and stressful day, largely due to Stevies tone and playing, or acting as a pick-me-up, getting you into the mood to go out and have a good time.
Obviously, music means different things to different people and will affect everyone in their own way. For me though, Texas Flood is something I can generally listen to regardless of my mood, allowing me to take away from it whatever I want.
For guitarists, or at least those who enjoy guitar from various genres, rather than any one particular style, Stevie's playing offers a wide range of things that can inspire and entertain. His tone is unmistakable, largely due to the heavier gauge strings he would use. Equally, Stevie's style is as distinctive as any other 'legend' and in many ways he's done as much for guitar playing as the likes of Hendrix, Satriani, Segovia, Reinhardt or any other 'legend' you might care to name. From that start in his short-lived career, the way he approaches songs really sets him apart from many of his peers and listening to his first outing you realise just why he became such a 'legend' and it makes you think what he could have achieved had he continued to live.
Non-guitarists shouldn't be concerned though, as Stevie's playing isn't squarely aimed at guitarists, (it's not guitar-playing for guitar-playing's sake, if you will). First and foremost with Stevie's style is the music itself, not the instrument. Stevie's approach to guitar was always to play from his soul, rather than relying and pure technique and as such, this makes 'Texas Flood' easily accesible, particularly to fans of blues, but I don't think it's essential to be a blues/rock fan to enjoy Stevie's playing.
The album itslef has been well mixed, (whether this is down to the remastering process, or was down to the original recording I cannot comment as I only own this version) allowing you to hear Stevie and the band clearly. This is not an album that has been over produced though, in that there are little or no overdubs. Instead, it sounds very much like three guys playing music they enjoy and having a fun time doing so. I think the album captures as much as possible SRV and Double Trouble's Live sound, (which the bonus tracks help to demonstrate). With such raw energy it's difficult not to tap your foot and enjoy yourself - and I defy anyone not to pick up their air-guitar and play along.
At just under sixty-minutes long, the album is just about the right length, neither too short, nor too long and I never find myself tiring of the music.
The bonus tracks are all "Previous Unreleased" recordings, with three of the five tracks being Live versions of songs from the album; however, of particular interest for me is 'SRV Speaks', a short extract of Stevie talking about how he approaches his playing. Although under forty-seconds long, I think this is a nice bonus track, which I found both insightful and inspiring, making me want to pick up my guitar as much as the actual music on the album does.
The sleeve that comes with this album doesn't contain any of the lyrics, but does have the usual 'Thanks to' and technical information.
Instead of lyrics, it does have an interesting account of Stevie and how he came to form Double Trouble, as well as tales of Stevie performing live. This was written by Michael Ventura, who is a columnist for The Austin Chronicle, but is clearly a man who enjoyed Stevie's music and I found it very insightful and enjoyable to read.
The lack of lyrics on the sleeve is perhaps my only criticism of this album, but that really is a minor gripe as far as I'm concerned - I bought the album to listen to the music, not read it.
Some might criticise the number of covers, four of the original album (i.e. not the remastered version with bonus tracks) and four of the five bonus tracks being covers. Whilst perhaps it would be interesting to hear more of Stevie's songwriting, it's understandable when you consider this is a debut album and that blues is not about the song, but the way you play it. I personally don't mind the number of covers as Stevie and the band stamp their own style onto them.
I bought 'Texas Flood' a few years ago now from MVC for £9.79, though nowadays you can pick it up much cheaper. I'm sure if you keep an eye out you're very likely to find this on special offer somewhere, but I think anything in the region of £7 or so is a very reasonable price to pay and certainly value for money.
I would thoroughly recommend this album to anyone interested in either rock or blues - it may even appeal to country fans, as Stevie has somewhat of an 'Austin-twang' to his playing. Guitarists and non-guitarists alike should find 'Texas Flood' an enjoyable addition to their collection.
1) Love Struck Baby
2) Pride And Joy
3) Texas Flood
4) Tell Me
6) Rude Mood
7) Mary Had A Little Lamb
8) Dirty Pool
9) I'm Cryin'
11) SRV Speaks
12) Tin Pan Alley (aka Roughest Place In Town)
13) Testify (Live)
14) Mary Had A Little Lamb (Live)
15) Wham! (Live)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Love Struck Baby
2 Pride and Joy
3 Texas Flood
4 Tell Me
6 Rude Mood
7 Mary Had a Little Lamb
8 Dirty Pool
9 I'm Cryin'
11 SRV Speaks [#][*] - Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
12 Tin Pan Alley (AKA Roughest Place in Town) [#][*]
13 Testify [Live][#][*]
14 Mary Had a Little Lamb [Live][#][*]
15 Wham! [Live][#][*]