Even though Metallica's James Hetfield makes it look all too easy, there are countless guitarists who find it challenging to sing while doing anything on the guitar — besides strumming. Some players (myself included) even get bent out of shape when they're asked to provide the simplest of vocal harmonies while playing basic to semi-challenging riffs.
In an age where musical tastes are being shaped by technological innovations, where sensibilities are being assaulted by arsenals of Linn drums and Fairlights and Mini Moogs, it's downright refreshing to see someone playing straight from the gut again.
Here's a doozy. Ten minutes of Stevie Ray Vaughan dishing out some stupendous blues magic on acoustic as part of an MTV Unplugged episode from 1990. Vaughan doesn't waste any time getting busy, and starts out with "Rude Mood," followed by a rousing acoustic "Pride and Joy."
For this week's flashback video, we head to Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1984. That's where — and when — Jeff Beck joined Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble on stage to play an impressive mini-set that included "Jeff's Boogie," a 1966 instrumental from the Yardbirds' Roger the Engineer album.
Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar tone was as dry as a San Antonio summer and as sparkling clean as a Dallas debutante, the product of the natural sound of amps with ample clean headroom. However, Vaughan occasionally used pedals to augment his sound, mainly to boost the signal, although he occasionally employed a rotating speaker cabinet and wah pedals for added textural flair.
When someone is widely hailed as the greatest guitar player ever, how do you step up and cover one of his songs? Have you ever noticed that the ratio of Metallica tribute albums to Hendrix tribute albums is something like 20 to 1? When's the last time you heard someone say, "Yeah, he played it better than Hendrix," without a clearly present sarcastic tone?