Once again, I turn to the Blues Power Rankings, the weekly recap of the hottest records and artists at blues radio, to generate today’s Verse Chorus Verse playlist. Here are six songs you might not know if you don’t have satellite radio or a good local blues station. Now you don’t have to miss out because I’m here to tell you all about them.
- Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – “Texas Flood (Live):” A deluxe, 2-CD edition of Vaughan’s Couldn’t Stand The Weather was released this week and blues radio programmers around the country wasted no time sharing tracks from the expanded set with their listeners. On Monday, the day before this was released, I spent some time thinking about the album’s original eight songs. Today as part of the BPR 6-pack, I’m highlighting a song from the previously unreleased material included on this new set.
The set list for Montreal set list features many songs available on other live packages but I never get tired of hearing his version of “Texas Flood” and as Vaughan concert staples go, this one isn’t quite as prominent as others. “Texas Flood” isn’t an SRV composition but the song will never belong to anyone else ever again. He recorded it and made it the title track for his debut album and is now to this song what Hendrix is to “All Along The Watchtower.” It’s tough to choose one performance of this song that stands above the others but this one is among the best I’ve heard. I still recommend getting this entire set because the Montreal set is great and it’s one of a handful of complete shows available from Vaughan & Double Trouble.
- Mitch Woods – “Caledonia’s Party:” We shift from the big, beautiful sound of Vaughan’s modern, electric, Texas blues to Mitch Woods’ New Orleans-flavored jazz-blues hybrid. Don’t confuse this number with “Caledonia,” a number Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Pinetop Perkins, & Co. did so many times through the years (I love the version on Breakin’ It Up, Breakin’ It Down). This is a different tune entirely and a much different tone.
“Caledonia’s Party” is a short little number on Woods’ Gumbo Blues but in less than three minutes he and his band will have you seeing everything in sepia tones and you’ll practically feel that bayou humidity. This isn’t a blood-n-gutbucket blues number but it’s no less authentic or inspired.
- Smokin’ Joe Kubek& Bnois King – “RU 4 Real:” I mentioned in my review of this record there are instances where Kubek & King get a little too cute by half with their lyrics and this is one of those songs but I’m going to recommend it to you anyway. Some of you might find the tongue-in-cheek lyrics funnier than I did.
Let’s set the lyrics aside for the moment. If you like hard-boiled Texas blues guitar, here is a six-minute serving of it. Joe and Bnois square off over a familiar beat butchered by every bar band in America, but these guys know what to do with it. You’ll squint with a half-smile on your face, nodding knowingly and everything feels just right.
- Steve Miller Band – “Hey Yeah:” It had been almost 20 years since Steve Miller Band released anything and when he returned it was with a blues-covers record. What would it sound like? A lot like the Steve Miller Band. “Hey Yeah” opens the record and gives fans a quick sense of how this record is going to work. Miller is a blues fan but he didn’t try to morph in to someone he’s not. I’m suspicious of slick blues but this is contemporary blues-rock and a little slickness isn’t such a bad thing. On “Hey Yeah,” it’s kind of terrific.
- Bettye LaVette – “Maybe I’m Amazed:” This is one of those songs that is so well-known and associated with Paul McCartney you can’t imagine anyway daring to cover it and you sure can’t imagine anyway doing it well. Marc Cohn took a stab at it on his new covers album. Cohn sounds pleasant but sleepy, opting not to go head-to-head with the fiery original. Bettye LaVette doesn’t scream this one out the way McCartney did, and she doesn’t need to. Her amazing, rare gift as a song interpreter allows her to step right to the middle of this song and deliver it with soul and passion. Incredible. Slap yourself if you don’t already own Interpretations and go buy it immediately.
- Peter Parcek 3 – “New Year’s Eve:” He may be in New York alone on New Year’s Eve, but he sounds like Peter Parcek sounds like he’s on that train that ran from Chicago and Mississippi during the great migration of the 20th Century. Parcek and the great Ronnie Earl trade stylish, gorgeous licks dripping with the electrified-Delta sounds that flowed freely from Chicago. Mike Fritz’s downhome harmonica and Mike Levesque’s gentle, tapping beat add to the immediacy and an intimacy that will have you believing these guys are playing this in your living room.