The Real Deal: Greatest Hits Volume 2

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

Epic / Legacy Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Stevie Ray Vaughan has been gone now for over eight years, yet his legacy as one of the best blues guitarists who ever lived remains. Interest in Vaughan's music has hardly waned since his tragic death, with new albums (comprising of a few outtakes and live performances) occasionally grace the marketplace.

Obviously, one Greatest Hits album was not enough to contain the genius that he was... prompting the release of The Real Deal: Greatest Hits Volume 2. Unlike many "second best-of" albums that seem to scrape the mediocre material from the catalog, the 16 songs on this disc are just as enjoyable and moving as any that you would find on the first collection.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Covering almost his entire recorded legacy (only Live At Carnegie Hall doesn't have tracks pulled from it), Vaughan's growth as an artist from the John Hammond days ("Love Struck Baby") to the survivor of his own personal hell ("Wall Of Denial," "Riviera Paradise") is chronicled here. And even if you're not into the blues, there will be something on this collection that will make you like Vaughan.

Don't be surprised if you find yourself saying, "Why wasn't this track included on the first best-of?" I can't explain how songs like "Look At Little Sister," "Empty Arms" or "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" didn't make it onto the original Greatest Hits album. They just didn't, okay? The Real Deal rectifies that problem, simply, by not featuring one weak track on it.

Two special surprises await those who own every album Vaughan has ever put out. "Pipeline," a track originally featured on the soundtrack to Back To The Beach, is dug out of the vaults for your enjoyment - and it's not a bad rendition of the song. The other gift is a live version of "Leave My Girl Alone," a track originally on Vaughan's In Step album. It is so true to the form of the studio version that were it not for the audience clapping, you'd swear you were listening to the album version. (You can also hear Vaughan pouring his whole being into his guitar solos - one of the rare times I wish that a CD had come with multimedia extras.)

There are many excellent guitarists out on the market today, but none have been able to step up to the plate and claim the throne that Vaughan held. It didn't matter if it was his beloved Stratocaster in his hands or an acoustic guitar, Vaughan could squeeze the last ounce of magic out of it - something which The Real Deal makes known very well.

It also reminds us of the talent that we lost when his helicopter crashed, and how rare it is that such a musician comes onto the scene to share his or her gifts with us. Fortunately, Vaughan did share them, someone had the smarts to sign him - and The Real Deal is just the latest album to help keep Vaughan's memory and legacy alive.

Rating: A

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen 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 Records, and is used for informational purposes only.