Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Trolling the Studio - The Lost Double Trouble Album
I've given myself a monumental task recently. I'm finally figuring out what's in my collection, and making a list, as I should have done long ago. Well, to be fair, I started long ago, but the project was dropped.
Then came a period when my old burner went through a slow decline. I was hesitant to replace it because I knew that the entire computer needed replacing, and was saving up for that. First, it stopped burning audio discs, but it would still burn data DVDs. Thus I was able to continue downloading things, listening to them on the computer, and storing them for later burning. And oh, I did that a lot.
So now that I'm needing a snow shovel to move the discs out of my way as I negotiate the hallway, it seems like a good time to figure out what's what. And boy, is there a lot of what. Enough to keep me writing these things for the rest of my life. I've found a lot of things I had forgotten downloading, and haven't listened to yet. So I'm sure you can understand how much fun I'm having discovering exactly what I've been sitting on.
While I've been doing this and the collection as a whole has been taking shape before me, I realized that my Trolling the Underground posts have yet to address an entire subsection of my collection. Thinking I should rectify it with a post, I soon realized that I had enough material in this subset to do a few posts. After a while, I saw a new series starting.
You see, a recording doesn't have to be live to be underground. It only has to be commercially unavailable. That opens a couple doors.
First, you have demo recordings. These are simple tapes that artists cobble together to play for the record companies prior to recording an album. It's their "sales pitch" to the label for that material, and everyone does them. These can vary from being almost identical to the finished product to being wildly different, which is when they are the most interesting. Sometimes they are even released, as in the case of Pete Townshend's "Scoop" collection, but not normally. They get out, though, either as the result of some insider action or else some mishap. I recently acquired a small selection of the demos from Peter Gabriel's first solo album that were found on a reel of tape in a box at the bottom of a stack of boxes in the bathroom of an unused warehouse. Imagine what other gems are sitting forgotten in ancient cardboard on rotting tape next to a leaky pipe. It's almost enough to make me run screaming into the night. We'll hear a lot of interesting demos as this new series develops.
Another form of underground studio recording is the "alternate take", which is frequently used as a special bonus on CD re-releases. These will come from the same sources, and be much more in depth than the bonus tracks.
There is a third category, though, that is much rarer. I have, so far, only three examples out of 1150 entries (and still counting). This is the unreleased album.
These are usually big news when the band is already established, and the legal battles can go on forever before we found out that the album was better left unreleased anyway (take that, Boston).This one, however, came about four years before Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble ended up releasing their first studio album, with a different lineup than the one that first recorded.
For this lineup Stevie had Jack Newhouse on bass, Chris Layton on drums, and Lou Ann Barton singing. Since the album was relatively short (remember, the album was recorded with vinyl in mind, the bootleg was made as a CD) it was matched with a 1979 concert tape of the same lineup, with a lot of the same songs. After that, Lou Ann Barton left to go solo, and Stevie began singing for the band. After one or two more personnel changes, they were heard at the Montreaux Jazz & Blues fest by James Taylor and David Bowie. After recording with both and declining to tour with Bowie (although you can hear them rehearse together here) Stevie finally got Texas Flood recorded and released, and the rest was history.
"The one and only surviving test pressing was recently discovered in a cupboard in South Austin, Texas where it had lain for the last 19 years, all other recordings of the project have been destroyed after alleged contractual disputes arose. These recording, notable for their raw energy and rare slide guitar work are essential for all true collectors. Also featuring four early arrangements of songs that later appeared on the Texas Flood album. Due to the brevity of the Nashville '78 session the producers have added a live soundboard recording featuring Lou Ann Barton and three tracks featuring Johnni Reno on saxophone."
Notes: The above paragraph is the supposed story behind this recording as told on the cd inlay. The real story is that the band didn't like the way the album turned out and paid a large sum of money to keep it from being released. As you would expect, someone got their hands on a copy and bootlegged it.
Well, the important thing is that I can haz it, right?
I'll share two songs for two different reasons. One is called Rude Mood, one of four songs that this album has in common with the Texas Flood album. It's for the fans of Stevie's instrumental style, and shows how it grew in the years between this recording and the one that was eventually released. The second is called I Wonder Why and has Lou Ann's vocals as well as that rare slide guitar mentioned above. What do you think, upon listening? Were they ready, or was keeping this under wraps a good move at the time? These are definitely two of the best tracks.
At any rate, I doubt any SRV fan would want to pass it up now. After all, there's only so much to be had, eh?