One of the coolest aspects of blues music is the improvisation. Similar to Jazz, a lot of the genre comes from the abilities of the artist as well as their heart and soul (as cheesy and untrue as that may sound to some). It has to do with their ability to feel the music as much, if not more than their ability to even understand the logistics. Many classics, such as Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, Eddie Van Halen, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Paul McCartney, didn’t know how to read music and/or never had formal lessons. Much like other cultural aspects like sports or manners that are emphasized from childhood, the music is a part of them. When considering this, it is really exciting to discover collaborations between these musicians since their abilities to adapt to other players is so well developed by the genre itself. One of my favorite examples of this is the live album recorded by Albert King (a brother to B.B. and Freddie) and Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1983.
Mainly consisting of compositions by the two respective artists, the eleven track album showcases everything from friendly banter to a fifteen-minute blues jam. The listener is able to take both artists and blend them together, hearing one guitarist in their forte style and the other vulnerable, adapting and showcasing their abilities to move away from their standard style of playing and singing.
There is a complaint about blues music that says the style is easy; it is all one simple form and all the songs sound the same. As if the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan, who plays a style more geared towards Texas Blues, didn’t already discount this claim, collaborations like this do the same thing. For the, dare I say, ignorant listeners that don’t see the talent and versatility in blues musicians, this is a good album to start with. As I mentioned, this was recorded live. With so much music being put together piece-by-piece in the studio, it is nice to listen to something like this that is recorded all in one take. Take some time to dig into this piece and see the raw talent of Stevie and Albert, all the while try and use it as a greater representation of the way blues music and culture functions.
Maybe one day I will post one of my original blues songs,