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Music Review: Albert King & Stevie Ray Vaughan – In Session (Deluxe Edition CD/DVD)

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Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan were a generation apart in age but were brothers of the guitar and the blues.

Albert was one of the three kings of the blues along with B.B. and Freddie. He was a left-hander who learned to play a right-handed guitar upside down. Even later in his career when he could afford a proper left-handed instrument, he would continue to string it upside down. His style and tone would influence the generation of guitarists which followed. His most famous work was for the legendary Stax label, and “Born Under A Bad Sign” remains his signature song. He died of a heart attack, 12/21/92, at the age of 69.

Stevie Ray Vaughan was ranked #7 by Rolling Stone Magazine on its list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time and was inducted into The Blues Hall Of Fame in the year 2000. He was a leading light of the modern electric blues scene, as his first five studio albums (which spanned 1983-1990) all reached at least platinum status in The United States.

On August 27, 1990, he boarded a helicopter shortly after completing a jam with Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, his brother Jimmie, and Robert Cray at The Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, Wisconsin, before an estimated crowd of 30,000. Less than five minutes after take-off he was dead.

Vaughan was an Albert King acolyte. On December 6, 1983, they joined together for a memorable performance for the Canadian television In Session program. The series would pair musicians who were similar in style but had rarely if ever played together. King and Vaughan would never share the stage again.

In Session was released as a CD during 1999 and would top the blues charts in The United States. It was King’s biggest selling album. Now it has been reissued with an accompanying DVD of the performance. The only thing better than hearing Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan play together is to see them play together.

In Session (Deluxe Edition) is an essential release for anyone even mildly interested in the blues. Albert King is the teacher and leads Vaughan through the set but allows him to exchange leads with him. The vocal interaction and banter between the two is also included, which give the proceeding an intimate and authentic feel.

The blues just do not get any better than this. The first three DVD tracks, “Born Under A Bad Sign,” “Texas Flood,” and “Call It Stormy Monday” are close to 30 minutes of electric blues that cannot be improved upon.

If you purchased the original CD 11 years ago, you will still need this new release as there are some DVD additions and a couple of deletions. Also, some of the material is extended back to its original length. The main omission was the 15-minute performance of “Blues At Sunrise,” which is a CD delight. “Born Under A Bad Sign,” “I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town,” and “Texas Flood” are the DVD-only tracks and are seeing the light of day for the first time in 28 years.

Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan will not pass this way again. In Session (Deluxe Edition) remains a defining moment in both of their careers. It is a must for any blues collection.

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