Saturday, August 2, 2014

Albert King With Stevie Ray Vaughan - In Session

I couldn't sleep - insomnia.  It was almost 2 a.m. and I was flipping through television channels as if I were playing a game of broadcast solitaire.  Each click of the remote revealed a new station.  I hit on an intimate video of Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan playing Vaughan's "Pride and Joy," a video I did not know, until then, even existed.  I was enthralled and set down the remote.  
The footage was followed by fifteen minutes of PBS fundraising telethon.  For some reason I didn't pick up the remote.  It was Christmas time 2010 and the cash-strapped public television station was including a CD and DVD of this "CD album and intimate video recording of Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan as a free gift for your pledge of $50 or more." After ten minutes of pleading for "donations" the show continued with King and Vaughan playing B. B. King's "Ask Me No Questions" followed by reverential banter between a young Stevie Ray and an eldepPBS3-9664437dt.jpgr Albert.  I decided to support public television.
The DVD was recorded from a December 6, 1983 live television program called "In Session" produced by CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  That was the same year Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released their first album, Texas Flood. The audio from the show was not released as an album until August 17, 1999.  The DVD of the show, including banter between the songs and during breaks, was released eleven years later, on September 28, 2010.
Stevie Ray clearly plays student to Albert King as most of the songs played are from King's songbook.  Legend has it King initially refused to play the show because he had never heard of this "Vaughan" guy.  It wasn't until someone jogged his memory that Vaughan was "little Stevie," the "skinny kid" that King had let sit in with him in Texas in 1973, did King agree to do the show.
Here is the DVD track listing:
  1. Call It Stormy Monday (Aaron "T-Bone" Walker) - 8:59
  2. "Old Times" - 1:15
  3. Pride and Joy (Stevie Ray Vaughan) - 5:57
  4. Ask Me No Questions (B.B. King) - 5:02
  5. "Pep Talk" - 0:51
  6. Blues at Sunrise (Albert King) - 15:08
  7. "Turn It Over" - 0:51
  8. Overall Junction (Albert King) - 8:19
  9. Match Box Blues (Blind Lemon Jefferson) - 7:38
  10. "Who Is Stevie?" - 0:43
  11. Don't Lie to Me (Hudson Whittaker) - 8:56
This is a wondrous, respectful blues guitar duel of a live performance by both guitar legends.  There is a tension that occurs as the then new guard (Vaughan) asserts his chops over the reigning King. Stax/Fantasy's release is a gem, especially since it contains so much of the banter between the musicians. King even shares memories of recording the original version of his "Blues At Sunrise" by Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.  The version offered by Vaughan and King is nothing short of phenomenal.
Four pledge breaks and $50 later I settled back into bed aurally richer.  This has become one of my “go to” albums - an awe-inspiring moment in time, captured and preserved - a lost classic - which, when you think about it, also describes PBS today.  
- Old School

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