It's hard to appreciate Stevie Ray Vaughan's talent when you're in the act of lunging to change the station the second you hear the opening lick to "Little Sister" or one of his other overplayed radio hits. It's even harder if you happen into a bar whose featured entertainment is one of the legion of Vaughan-abe white blues players he inspired, whether it's some purported up-and-coming axe slinger or a gray-ponytailed burnout in a Hawaiian shirt.
Like it or not, Vaughan was perhaps the most influential blues player of the '80s, and it wasn't just fans of his flashy fretboard pyrotechnics who took notice: One of his heroes, Albert King, teamed with him to record an intimate session for a Canadian music TV series, In Session.
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The results, previously available on CD but now paired with a DVD of video footage including songs cut from the show and CD, are indispensable for fans of either. Aided by coolly competent sidemen—particularly Tony Llorens, who lays down subtle but tasty organ flourishes—the two trade and intertwine solos and lead parts throughout the session, which mostly consists of King material aside from "Pride And Joy" and the DVD-only "Texas Flood." Vaughan, clearly in awe in the between-song banter, occasionally launches into displays of his sloppy virtuosity, but mostly defers to his idol. Wise decision—he's at his best as a sideman here. King, meanwhile, looks and sounds like he's having the time of his life, hooting and hollering encouragement to his acolyte as the two jam—and even threatening him with a tanning should Vaughan ever quit picking.