Harbinger Northwest Records 2015
10 tracks; 48 minutes
The Ted Vaughn Blues Band comes from the Pacific Northwest and this is their first release though they are an experienced outfit who have been playing in their area for some time. Leader Ted is on vocals and harp, Clay ‘Bone’ King is on guitar and vocals, Leon-Forrest produced and plays keys, Ted Larson is on bass and vocals and Ian Henderson on drums. There are three originals and seven covers.
The CD opens brightly with “Them 12-Bar Blues”, a witty play on words where Ted finds that the bars that interest his girl serve drinks rather than concern music: “I thought she loved the music, I thought she loved the blues but all she really loves is her whiskey, wine and booze”. With strong harp and neat guitar and organ solos this is a good track.
“Nothin’ But Trouble” is a lengthy slow blues, the classic tale of the guy whose run of bad luck is hard to credit – his girl left him, he lost his job, got evicted from his home, etc! Nothing startlingly novel here but a solid number. “Swang Thang” is a short instrumental feature for Ted’s harp with some synth horns added to the mix to give the piece some extra swing and it works well.
If you take on the classics you will be compared with the originals, so with Howling Wolf’s “Killing Floor” you have to match up to Wolf’s vocals and either Hubert Sumlin’s original guitar riff or Michael Bloomfield’s cover with Electric Flag and the band cannot stand those comparisons. They also take on two BB King tunes in “The Thrill Is Gone” and “How Blue Can You Get?”: the former has some nice harp at the beginning but otherwise brings nothing new to the tune; the latter is working quite well until half-way through when a weird solo is played, a sort of scat which jars with the rest of the song using either a vocoder or some form of synth.
A run-through of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom, Boom” fails to convey the menace of the original but “Treat Her Right” fares better with some of the same ‘snap’ in the rhythm that the original had. It was disappointing to find that none of the originals are credited and, even though we know most of them well, a band should give credit to the authors.
So, this release is something of a mixed bag. It would be good to see the band produce more of their own material which, on the basis of this album, they are more than capable of doing.