Torch Blues

For all the Stevie Ray lovers who swear he sprang out of nowhere complete with monster chops, this release should put that bit of fiction to rest. As great a player as Stevie was, he was just one more highly acclaimed white guitar virtuoso who studied at the foot of Albert King; Eric Clapton is yet another.

So student meets teacher in an impromptu jam session, and teacher is well pleased. King often compliments Stevie on his accomplishments, but he warns him not to rest on his laurels.

"You're already pretty good," he says. "But you're gonna get better." Then, later, "So I'll be watching ya and prayin' for ya, and I'll be standing right there with that bullwhip." That should clear things up.

What makes this CD so great isn't the level of playing, which is mostly great but sometimes uneven. What makes this a must-have for all lovers of blues-rock is what it represents as blues history. King comes right out and says that he's passing the torch to Stevie, and when King passes you the torch, you'd better run with it.

Stevie ran for all he was worth.

Keith A. Owens is a Detroit-based freelance writer and musician. E-mail him at [email protected].

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