Texas Flood

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

Epic / Legacy Records, 1983


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


In 1983, Stevie Ray Vaughan was looked upon as the next great hope for the blues world. In a matter of months, he and his band Double Trouble became the first unsigned band to play the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival, and they caught the ear of legendary A&R scout John Hammond (who was also responsible for bringing the world Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen). It seemed like Vaughan's star could go nowhere but up.

So why, 16 years later, do I still find myself mildly disappointed by Vaughan's debut album Texas Flood? Maybe it's because the young guitarist didn't quite know how to translate the energy he put into playing live into the studio setting - not an unusual thing for any band to face. With the recently remastered edition, including some live bonus tracks, it seems like my beliefs have been confirmed.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Now, I realize that Texas Flood has a whole bunch of songs that would become classics for Vaughan, like "Love Struck Baby", "Pride And Joy" and "Mary Had A Little Lamb". And there are moments on these songs where you can hear the sheer brilliance of Vaughan's guitar playing. But, even these sound a bit sterile, especially when you've heard live versions of the same songs that are so hot they make the paint blister off the living room walls.

Often, it just sounds like Vaughan was a bit intimidated by the studio setting, and while he really could have turned up the volume on tracks like "Testify," "Dirty Pool" and the title track, he regrettably holds back. Vaughan finally lets the floodgates go on the closing instrumental "Lenny," which is five minutes of sheer emotion poured into a six-string. Prior to the bonus tracks being added to this album, this was a perfect way to close the disc, even if one was left wishing that there had been more fireworks.

Texas Flood is bolstered by the inclusion of five bonus tracks. The short interview segment is actually one where I wish that we had heard more of Vaughan's insight to his music; if anything, this debut disc is one that begged for the inclusion of a longer interview from Timothy White. The studio outtake, "Tin Pan Alley (aka Roughest Place In Town)", is not the greatest selection I've heard from Vaughan, and seems to be dragging too much.

Then, the live cuts hit - and Vaughan's true power is finally unleashed. The renditions of "Testify" and "Mary Had A Little Lamb" release a power that isn't heard in the studio efforts, while Vaughan's cover of Lonnie Mack's "Wham!" simply brings the house down. (It seems natural that Vaughan would be chosen by Mack to contribute to Mack's "comeback" album, Strike Like Lightning, a short time later.)

Texas Flood is still an interesting first glimpse of a genius in the works, but it is not the best example of Vaughan's guitar prowess. As he matured as a musician, he would grow more comfortable with the studio, and would allow his power to shine wherever he happened to strap on his Stratocaster. But this first effort shows a younger, rawer musician - and doesn't capture the power we all now know he had.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 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.