Texas Flood (30th Anniversary Legacy Edition)

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

Epic/Legacy, 2013


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Let’s face it: legacy/deluxe/anniversary editions and the like are, for the most part, self-indulgent wastes of time designed to appeal to older listeners’ nostalgic impulses while pumping up the balance sheets of financially floundering labels and their late-career acts. There are exceptions, though—and Texas Flood is one.

This album arrived in 1983 like a cry from the wilderness, the perfect foil for the cold, ironic, tech-driven early ’80s music scene—a blast of soul and grit and raw Texas boogie, coupled with the virtuosic guitar-playing and earthy, weathered voice of the one and only Mr. Stevie Ray Vaughan.

There have been precious few debut albums in the history of popular music with the immediate, and then also lasting, impact of Texas Flood. By the time this remarkable record’s initial run was done, Vaughan and bandmates Tommy Shannon (bass) and Chris Layton (drums) were out of clubs and alleys and into arenas and awards shows.

And why wouldn’t they be? Thirty years and as many guitar-hero pretenders later, we’re still waiting for another one to come along with Vaughan’s combination of spectacular musicianship and genuine soul. He was an original, and Texas Flood, much like its title, established him as a force of nature, to be reckoned with but never tamed.

Vaughan announced his arrival in style with the stinging opening riffs and casual rockabilly grace of “Love Struck Baby,” a concise tune that nonetheless establishes his bona fides, delivering equal doses of grit and swagger. “Pride And Joy” ups the ante with a flashy opening that drops straight into a chugging, churning electric blues, lit up by a pair of fiery, twisting, casually spectacular solos.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The thing about this album is, those moments come again and again and again. Vaughan invests enough passion in playing (and singing) the extended, blustery blues “Texas Flood” to power said state. “Tell Me” offers a growling little slice of boogie, and then the instrumentals—an unusual and entirely welcome feature—start to take over the middle and back end of this album. “Testify” is merely superb, stutter-stepping through one complex sequence after another, until the closing solo elevates the song into the realm of the mind-blowing. As a listener, you hear the closing solo on this track and say to yourself “That’s unreal”—and then “Rude Mood” opens up, and it’s another instrumental, and Vaughan’s playing is at that same skull-exploding level from the very first note, the deftness and velocity, the pure expressiveness of his playing is stunning, and in stark contrast to the cool, electronic detachment that dominated the music scene at the time.

“Mary Had A Little Lamb”—a Buddy Guy cover—is a treat, and “Dirty Pool” is a classic blues grinder, but “I’m Cryin’” outshines them both, a quintessential Vaughan number guaranteed to set fingers snapping and feet tapping. “Lenny” makes for a fitting closer, a gentle, bluesy instrumental spotlighting the exquisite feel and emotion of every sequence of notes Vaughan coaxes out of his guitar. (Bonus track “Tin Pan Alley” is basically an excuse to solo over a slow blues backbeat for seven and a half minutes… not that there’s anything wrong with that, not if you can play like this.)

The 30th anniversary legacy edition adds a second disc with an October 1983 live recording from a small Philadelphia club that Vaughan and company played on their first national tour. The show is notable mostly for the raw energy of Vaughan’s playing, the faithfulness of his renditions of tracks from Texas Flood, and the blistering passion Vaughan pours into a trio of Hendrix covers: an instrumental medley of “Little Wing” and “Third Stone From The Sun,” and a straight cover of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” The live rendition of the latter song heard here is considerably rougher than the studio version recorded for Couldn’t Stand The Weather (1984); he obviously loved the song, but was still in the process of perfecting his vision for it.

Many deluxe editions feel unnecessary; not this one. Both the music itself and the very existence of an album like Texas Flood deserve to be celebrated over and over again. Listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan play guitar is like watching Da Vinci paint or Michaelangelo sculpt. All you can really do is sit back and wonder.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2013 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic/Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.