Picks and Pans Review: The Sky Is Crying

updated 01/13/1992 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/13/1992 01:00AM

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

The death of Texas guitar virtuoso Vaughan in a 1990 helicopter crash deprived the blues-rock revival of one of its brightest lights. This posthumous release, compiled by his brother (and fellow guitar-slinger) Jimmie, draws heavily on overlooked gems and alternate takes.

There are no big surprises, only further confirmation of Vaughan's flawless technique and impassioned vocals. Equally attracted to the spare, direct style of classic '50s blues and to Jimi Hendrix psychedelia, Vaughan managed to fuse the two in his own dramatic language. Nowhere is this more evident than on his version of Hendrix's "Little Wing," with its playful mood shifts and strong blues flavor.

One of the more intriguing aspects of Vaughan's career was his penchant for jazz. Although he downplayed his abilities, the natural swing feel and mature phrasing displayed on Kenny Burrell's sleek "Chitlins con Carne" is hardly the work of a dilettante.

Vaughan's strongest suit remains blues shuffles and powerful rock instrumentals like "Wham"—perfect settings for his razor-sharp guitar. Coming up short only rarely—the Howlin' Wolf cover "May I Have a Talk with You" sounds forced and overwrought—Vaughan left a legacy worthy of his heroes. (Epic)

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