ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 21, 1997
By Steve Newton
If there was ever any doubt that Stevie Ray Vaughan was a guitarist with skill and soul on a par with any rock legend living or dead, this live CD—recorded at New York’s Carnegie Hall on October 4, 1984, the day after Vaughan’s 30th birthday—should set the record straight.
After a brief introduction by veteran A&R man John Hammond—who did the music world the favour of getting Vaughan a recording contract two years earlier—Stevie starts off with the instrumental “Scuttle Buttin’ ”. From that tune’s frantic opening lick, his extreme talent is laid bare for all to see. Vaughan was always a powerful lead vocalist, but he couldn’t help but shine brightest on his instrumental works, as he does here on both the beautiful, seven-minute “Lenny” and the frenzied, 90-second “Rude Mood”.
While Live at Carnegie Hall captures Vaughan in his typical concert setting—accompanied by the Double Trouble rhythm section of bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris “Whipper” Layton—it also expands on six tracks to include performances by Vaughan’s guitar-playing brother Jimmie, keyboardist Dr. John, vocalist Angela Strehli, and the five-piece Roomful of Blues horn section.
Depending on your musical tastes, the horns are either a tasty addition or an unwanted embellishment. Personally, I could do without them. Anything that crowds Vaughan’s phenomenal guitar work rubs me the wrong way.