Jimmie Vaughan

Strange Pleasure/Out There

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The Superbird label's entry into in the blues reissue market begins with Jimmie Vaughan's two post-Fabulous Thunderbirds solo albums cut for Epic in the 1990s: Strange Pleasure, originally released in 1994, and Out There, from 1998. The former album was produced by Nile Rodgers of Chic fame. It contains 11 tracks, all of which were written or co-written by Vaughan. They're drenched in funky, rhythm-heavy jump and Texas R&B with a percussive, edge. With Bill Willis on B-3 and George Rains on drums, the album features a number of pianists including Dr. John (especially effective on the closing title track, an instrumental duet subtitled "Backporch Duende"). Rodgers plays rhythm guitar on "(Everybody's Got) Sweet Soul Vibe," and there are a number of backing vocalists including Lou Ann Barton, who appears on the opener "Boom-Bapa-Boom." Out There was co-produced by Vaughan and John Hampton, with the exception of "Like a King," by Rodgers, and presumably a leftover from the Strange Pleasure sessions. The rest is a patchwork of dates; some are tunes reworked from demos recorded for the earlier album, while the new songs were recorded either at Ardent in Memphis or Kingsway in New Orleans. The overall feel of Out There is less focused than its predecessor, but that doesn't mean it's a dud. The rhythm section remains the same on most tracks, though Vaughan performs solo on the album closer "Little Son, Big Sun." Some of these cuts, such as the title track and "Can't Say No," with backing vocals from Harry Bowens, really are out of left field; they foreshadow the stranger, darker, and even jazzier material that would appear on his 2001 album Do You Get the Blues? on Artemis. Still others, including "Lost in You" and "Astral Projection Blues" (the former co-written with Dr. John; the latter an instrumental with him on piano and vibes) are excellent examples of the new directions Vaughan was stretching the blues into, without losing its gritty essence. Given how tired and formulaic most electric blues sounds in the 21st century, these albums are worth revisiting for their originality and vision.

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