Jimmie Vaughan – The Pleasure’s All Mine: The Complete Blues, Ballads And Favorites Sessions
The Last Music Co – 2020
CD1: 15 tracks; 51 minutes
CD2: 16 tracks; 54 minutes
After the success of last year’s Baby Please Come Home Jimmie’s new label decided to re-release two earlier albums in the same style. 2020 marks the tenth anniversary of Plays Blues, Ballads and Favorites (CD1), the sequel Plays More Blues, Ballads and Favorites (CD2) coming a year later, but both albums are out of print and difficult to find, so this double CD package is most welcome. The personnel across the two discs is fairly consistent: the rhythm section throughout is George Rains on drums and Ronnie James on bass, Billy Pitman adds rhythm guitar to several tracks; Greg Piccolo is on tenor sax throughout, supported by Kaz Kazanoff on baritone and Ephrahim Owens on trumpet on CD1, Doug James taking over on baritone on CD2. Long-time keyboard player Bill Willis passed away before the first album was released but is heard on B3 on a few tracks and handles vocals on one song; there are no keyboards at all on CD2. Jimmie is on lead guitar and vocals throughout, Lou Ann Barton adding vocals to six cuts on CD1 and four on CD2.
A founding member of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmie had recorded a few solo albums but none had the impact of Plays Blues, Ballads and Favorites which was nominated for a Grammy in the Traditional Blues category. As the original sleeve-notes make clear, Jimmie’s intention was to blend songs from country and blues, pointing out that country artists used to cover Jimmy Reed and that Ray Charles and others played country songs. So, across this collection we get songs from Jimmy, Ray, Roscoe Gordon and Amos Millburn sitting alongside Charlie Rich, Willie Nelson and Gene Autry, plus a smattering of Little Richard, Doug Sahm and Jimmy Liggins. Whatever the source, this is terrific music, played with a smile and impossible to stay still to! These songs have formed the basis of Jimmie’s set lists with his Tilt-A Whirl Band for many years.
CD1 opens with the song that gives the collection its title, Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson’s “The Pleasure’s All Mine”, and it sets out the stall for what is to come with insistent rhythm and strong horn choruses behind Jimmie’s convincing vocals. “Come Love” finds Jimmie playing the high-pitched Jimmy Reed style harmonica as Lou Ann shares the vocals, staying on board for Don and Dewey’s “I’m Leaving It Up To You” before the sole original on the two discs, a fine instrumental whose title “Comin’ And Goin’” sums up what you hear; Roy Milton’s “RM Blues” is another excellent instrumental later in the set, Derek O’Brien sitting in on rhythm guitar. Lou Ann reprises LaVern Baker’s “Wheel Of Fortune” and demonstrates her versatility on Charlie Rich’s “Lonely Weekends”, Ted Taylor’s “I Miss You So” and Little Richard’s “Send Me Some Lovin’”. Jimmie is superb on a swinging horn arrangement of Johnny Ace’s “How Can You Be So Mean” and the fast-moving groove of “Roll, Roll, Roll” from Guitar Junior, aka Lonnie Brooks. Greg Piccolo gets several solo spots, none better than on the jagged rhythms of “Just A Little Bit” (Roscoe Gordon). Bill Willis’ deeper vocals are heard on Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away which closes the album.
CD2 follows a similar pattern though Billy Pitman plays rhythm guitar player on every track bar one, where Derek O’Brien plays. Jimmy Reed is again covered, a stripped-back version of “I’m A Love You” which the horns sit out, and “Greenbacks”, a 1955 Ray Charles tune, is the sole instrumental this time. Jimmie visits some catalogues twice: Huey P. Meaux (The Crazy Cajun) wrote the ballads “The Rains Came” and “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”, another vehicle for Lou Ann’s vocals; Annie Laurie is the source for the strolling rhythm of “It’s Been A Long Time” and “I’m In The Mood For You”, also with Lou Ann on vocals; Bobby Charles wrote the bouncy “I Ain’t Gonna Do It No More” and “No Use Knocking”, on which Jimmie and Lou Ann share the vocals. Most of those songs come from the 1950’s but Jimmy goes back as far as 1941 for Gene Autry’s “I Hang My Head And Cry” and starts the album with “I Ain’t Never”, an obscure track by Mel Tillis & The Statesiders from as recently as 1972! There are also songs from Nappy Brown, Jimmy Liggins and Lloyd Price to enjoy before the album closes with a fine, relaxed version of “Shake A Hand” recorded live at The Grammy Museum in LA. Lou Ann Barton does a fine job on a song which many have sung since Faye Adams’ 1953 original, including LaVern Baker, Little Richard, Elvis Presley and Paul McCartney.
Throughout both these albums the standard of musicianship is stellar, Jimmie paying tribute to engineer Jared Tuten and the musicians involved for helping him to “develop that real jukebox sound”. It certainly works for this reviewer and, if you do not have the original releases, I cannot recommend this new package highly enough. One perhaps for the Historical Or Vintage Recording category in the 2021 Blues Blast Awards?