The slow blues is an enigma that few guitarists have been able to crack. The tempo of the song is slow, as is indicated by the moniker “slow blues,” yet it is easy to over-do the slow, and drag the audience to sleep, or to speed up and lose the effect. Stevie Ray Vaughan had a way with the slow blues, and this compilation shows off some of the best slow works of his career.
Aside from a bunch of stuff any good Stevie fan has heard—or seen—there are two new tracks: one with previous generation Texas slinga Johnny Copeland, and an alternate take of “The Sky is Cryin’,” from the 1991 album of the same name, which was Stevie’s first posthumous release. These tracks are good, but leave some room to question the value of the collection.
Yeah, that’s right, I’m always looking out for the consumer.
“Tin Pan Alley,” the track with Johnny Copeland—who by the way, is a Grammy winner and father of up-and-coming blueswoman Shemakia Copeland—is fiery and forceful, like Stevie at his best. Copeland’s solo is perhaps the more intriguing, as his vibrato sings, and he shows his version of the Texas style that influenced Stevie Ray Vaughan early in his career. The alternate “Sky is Cryin’” is a bit more toned-down than the previously released version. The opening lick simmers at a medium tone, where the other version screams out a high bend. It is more calm, more laid-back, and more fitting of an SRV slow blues.
So the two tracks are good. In addition, the album itself has a good flow, and would probably be a nice thing to sit back with on a rainy day, or even to play softly behind a nice candlelit dinner—for all you blues fans who can’t seem to romance your date with the latest Jon Spencer album. For the hardcore SRV fan, however, it would only be worth the money if you really dig his slow stuff, and can’t live without owning every piece of his released material. One or the other shouldn’t do it.
// Notes from the Road
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