Typically, I dislike posthumous releases, cynically believing them to be just one more way for a record company to milk another dollar from the artist’s fans. And like all Texans, I am protective of the memory of one of our greatest musical sons, Stevie Ray Vaughan. So I listened to Solos, Sessions & Encores with a skeptical ear. However, this CD has come to be on rotation on my home stereo and I am recommending it to all of my blues loving friends.
Solos, Sessions & Encores is a collection of recordings of SRV playing along with friends. He often generously lent his talents to other blues musicians. Texas is well-represented with “Albert’s Shuffle,” co-written with Albert Collins, and songs with Austin blues goddesses Lou Ann Barton and Marcia Ball. Lou Ann sings a song made famous by Koko Taylor, “You Can Have My Husband (But Please Don’t Mess With My Man),” recorded when Barton and SRV were dating.
A nice surprise is Lonnie Mack’s “Oreo Cookie Blues,” which Nabisco ought to pick up to advertise its cookie. The lyrics describe an Oreo lover whose passion for the cookie leads to “blubber on the hips” and to these behaviors that more familiarly describe an alcoholic:
“I hide ‘em in the cabinet
I keep ‘em in the jar
For emergencies you know I keep ‘em
In the glove compartment of my car
Can’t live without ‘em, ya’ll
They get me higher than I can get on booze”
The most impressive track, in terms of blues god-hood, is “The Sky is Crying.” Albert King and SRV perform this classic live with BB King, and Paul Butterfield on the harp. Albert King introduces Stevie Ray as “the new blood.” The two musicians trade off guitar as well as vocal solos. After Butterfield’s spine-chilling harp break, B.B. King joins the rest of the musicians. You can clearly identify the distinctive style of each guitarist. The performance is amazing. I wish I’d been there to see it; it sounds like one of those performances where at the end you can shout “Take me, Jesus!” because you’d just seen it all.
Bonnie Raitt also joins SRV for “Texas Flood.” Other artists on the CD are Johnny Copeland, Dick Dale, Jeff Beck, A.C. Reed, Katie Webster, and Bill Carter. David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” remains an oddball last track. This recording is essential for all blues lovers.