Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
Live From Carnegie Hall
Epic 68163
One could argue, even among Stevie Ray Vaughan fans, that the world doesn't need another SRV and Double Trouble live recording, no matter what it is. Already, we have the two-LPs-on-one-CD set Live Alive (1986), as well as the posthumous In the Beginning, a 1980 recording released in 1991. Throw in two posthumous video releases -- the scintillating Live at the El Mocambo (recorded in 1983, released in 1991) and Live From Austin, Texas, a 1995 release that packages 1983 and 1989 performances on Austin City Limits -- and that's a heap of live SRV from 1980 to 1989. What can Live From Carnegie Hall add or offer that hasn't already been covered?

The answer lies not in the historic venue where this October 4, 1984 recording was made, or in the fact that for SRV, who had turned 30 the day before, playing Carnegie Hall must have signified a rite of passage, a symbol of legitimacy and success: His parents traveled to New York to see the performance, and John Hammond Sr. introduced the band to open the show.

What Live From Carnegie Hall offers is a snapshot of SRV in a unique musical setting, supported for the second half of the show by the added backbone of rhythm guitar (brother Jimmie), keyboards (Dr. John), a second drummer (George Rains) and -- most notably -- the five-piece Roomful-of-Blues horn section. It was the only time SRV performed with horns, but you'd never know it to hear him. It works remarkably well, particularly on the ubiquitous "Pride and Joy" (featuring a roomier, more swinging groove than usual), Guitar Slim's "Letter to My Girlfriend" and the fervent Albert Collins' instrumental shuffle, "Iced Over." By the way, the latter two had never appeared on Vaughan's recordings. Nor had Albert King's "C.O.D.," featuring guest vocalist Angela Strehli. (Listen closely as SRV lovingly imitates two of his favorite Alberts.)

For his encore, Vaughan capped the evening with a riveting, seven-minute solo version of "Lenny" and a 90-second romp through "Rude Mood," also unaccompanied.

Stevie Ray's brother, Jimmie, who apparently holds the keys to the SRV musical vault, remains committed to releasing only the best of his brother's remaining recorded legacy. In that respect, he has succeeded again with Live From Carnegie Hall, which was considered for release as the band's third LP but languished on the shelf after the group began recording Soul to Soul in 1985.

The bottom line: Yes, there are plenty of good reasons for fans to add this latest live SRV to their collections. Do so without hesitation.

-- Bryan Powell

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Boulder, CO, USA.