‘The Jimmie Vaughan Story’ Reviewed: A Big Box of Blues

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Jimmie Vaughan, performing with his band, at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sept. 28, 2019 (Photo: Greg Brodsky

Texas-based blues-rock singer and guitarist Jimmie Vaughan marked his 70th birthday this year, and we get the present (even if we do have to pay for it): a limited-edition boxed set (due out September 17, 2021), titled The Jimmie Vaughan Story, that includes six hours of music on five CDs, plus a 240-page hardcover book. A beautifully packaged deluxe version adds more goodies, among them a vinyl copy of Vaughan’s Grammy-winning 2001 album, Do You Get the Blues, a couple of 45-rpm singles, a magazine that showcases the artist’s classic cars collection, and an individually autographed replica of the album cover.

The Deluxe edition

The career-spanning program on the CDs includes material recorded over more than four decades. The first disc contains the same tracks that appeared on 2013’s The Bad & Best of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, an anthology from Vaughan’s old group, which featured vocalist Kim Wilson. The remaining CDs include recordings made with a variety of blues and rock A-listers, among them Albert Collins, Bo Diddley, James Cotton, John Lee Hooker, Little Milton, Charlie Musselwhite, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Jimmie’s late younger brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan. The roster of composers is similarly luminous, embracing names like Willie Dixon, Doug Sahm, Guitar Junior and Lightnin’ Hopkins.

Listening to Vaughan’s lean and wonderful guitar work in this box, you can see why so many legendary artists have wanted to work with him. As an MC says in introducing a live version of “The Pleasure’s All Mine,” where Vaughan duets with Bonnie Raitt, “He and his brother Stevie Ray are Austin legends…and they are vital links to the roots of this unique American music style.”

There’s not a bad track in the collection, whose many highlights include the Thunderbirds’ “Rainin’ in My Heart” (the Slim Harpo/Jerry West number, not the Buddy Holly song), “You Ain’t Nothin’ but Fine” and “Why Get Up,” all of which recall ’50s rock. Among other standouts are “What Am I Living For,” the 1958 Chuck Willis R&B chart-topper, which features vocals by Lou Ann Barton; Hooker’s “Boom Boom”; and a horn-spiced reading of “One Mint Julep,” the Clovers’ 1952 hit.

Then there’s “Six Strings Down” and “SRV Shuffle,” which first appeared on a tribute album to Stevie and finds Jimmie accompanied by Raitt as well as Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Dr. John and Art Neville.

If you’re looking for a quick and less-expensive introduction to Vaughan, you might want to opt for The Pleasure’s All Mine, a compilation of two of his best latter-day releases that came out last year. But that’s likely to just whet your appetite for more, so if your heart is with the blues and your wallet says yes, you’d probably be better off heading straight for this fantabulous big box.

Watch the unboxing video for The Jimmie Vaughan Story

Related: Our Album Rewind of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Texas Flood

Jeff Burger

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