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Lunch » Tags » Movie » Reviews » Stevie Ray Vaughan - Live at the El Mocambo (1983) » User review


  • Aug 25, 2000
Lest you should ever forget what rock 'n' roll was originally all about, and what it still IS meant to be all about, check out this eye-popping performance from a young and unknown Stevie Ray Vaughan. The guitar playing world in 1983 was heading in two directions: electronic buffoonery of the worst order from the likes of those dullards Satriani and Vai, and directionless "energy and raw power" school of thought, populated by idiots who couldn't play their instruments and didn't understand any better what this wonderful medium is all about. Oh, it makes me so ANGRY to even think about it.

So exactly what Stevie Ray Vaughan and his merry men thought they were up to in that sort of context is anyone's guess. But who cares - all I can say is THANK THE LORD. From the first second of the show, shimmying in from stage-right, Stevie pulverises the stage, his instrument, his face and the crowd with the most gut-wrenching sonic assault I have ever seen or heard. Outstanding though most of his studio albums may be, you have no idea - really, none - of the energy - the man's sheer brute strength - the power of Stevie Ray Vaughan's playing until you see it unfold before you, even on a slightly tinny video. And WHAT he plays is inconceivably brilliant. You will shake your head in wonder.

Hendrix, the great deconstructor himself, is pulled apart limb from limb and ghoulishly re-arranged like the victim of some crazed serial killer. Lonny Mack is gunned down the straight like an over-powered dragster. SRV's wife Lenny is eulogised, sweat cascading down face, as the man gets through a whole smoke in one go without taking it out of his mouth. Even if you don't like his music the video is worth getting simply for Mr Vaughan's legendary facial expressions, and the marathon take on Texas Flood will do you till Tuesday week. Truly, TRULY outstanding.

You should just SEE the looks on the faces of those lucky Canadians in the audience.

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Olly Buxton ()
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In 1990, Texas bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughan was just emerging from a long period in which drugs had taken their toll: the previous year'sIn Stepalbum was the first he had made drug free, and the results were a marvel. But then, after sharing a stage with Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, and Eric Clapton, he boarded a helicopter to Chicago. It crashed, and the career of one of the great blues guitarists was ended.

Rewind to 1983 and here is Stevie Ray at the beginning of his fame, his first album with his backing band Double Trouble, Texas Flood, having just been released to critical and popular acclaim. The venue is the El Mocambo club in Toronto, a dark, smoky joint with a laid-back but appreciative clientele. Vaughan, drummer Chris Layton, and bassist Tommy Shannon share the tiny stage. The guitarist, bedecked in trademark hat and alligator-skin boots, is pale of complexion, sweating from the heat and physical exertion, and physically much smaller than Shannon, who towers over him. But Vaughan dominates, as much by the magnetism of his flamboyant personality as his guitar playing. And what playing: by turns fiery, funky, then limpid and surprisingly graceful. Here is an authentic blues artist captured in the throes of living through his music. At this early stage in his career he was still very much in thrall to Jimi Hendrix (the flower-power shirt gives it away), as covers of "Voodoo Chile" and "Third Stone from the Sun" (the latter a Hendrix-inspired guitar-abuse session) indicate....

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