If, as John Lennon once mused, the blues is a chair, then Stevie Ray Vaughan's debut album is a fuzz-upholstered, gold-trimmed space-chaise recliner with automatic pilot and dual sensory controls. From the breakneck opening chords of "Love Struck Baby" to the last delicate harmonic "ping" of "Lenny," Vaughan's "Texas Flood" is the most breathtaking tour-de-force any guitarist -- blues or otherwise -- has offered in many a year.
It's not only that Vaughan possesses formidable technique (listen to the double- time runs on "Lenny" and "Testify"). It's not just a matter of fertile, roots-rich style (Hoyt meets Hendrix head-on in Muddy Waters), or purist sensibility that gives way to stunning originality. It isn't merely funk- smarts applied to the most basic blues structures (listen to the primal wails and King-cousin filigrees embroidering the 12- bar fabric of the title track and "Rude Mood").
Vaughan's singing, or rather, growling voice is not nearly so agile as his playing, but that only seems to enhance the sanctity of his vision. What we have here is a remarkable blues talent with his feet planted firmly in the soil of tradition and his head in some uncharted progressive galaxy. In short, less a blues record than a blues experience, and one not to be missed. STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN AND DOUBLE TROUBLE -- "Texas Flood" (Epic BFE 38734). Appearing Wednesday at 8 at the Bayou.