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Music

When Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King jammed blues for an inspiring session

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King are two of most acclaimed blues guitarists of their generation, and with good reason too, because their work was brimming with energy and excitement, creating a raw, tangible environment from which the barrelling guitars could ricochet across the walls, halls and seats.

They were known for combatting two disparate areas of rock, but held a reverence for the blues that went beyond the realm of passing interest, and into the pot of mania. Indeed, either one of them could have fronted a rock band of their own choosing, but together they were a wild force that only generated rising levels of excitement when their guitars bounced off one another.

They appeared on stage together, discussing their techniques. King tells a baby faced Stevie Ray Vaughan that many guitarists are more concerned with speed and frenzy than they are on the soul of the performance in question. The session occurred in 1983, as the two forces combined forces to create a propulsive sound of guitar fusion that comes from a place of tremendous mutual respect for the other person.

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The guitarists lock eyes, trembling over one another, in the hope of creating a more stable environment for their partner to let loose and play. It’s rare to see two consummate artists enjoy one another’s company – it’s hard to imagine Paul McCartney jamming with anyone else – so the footage that was released was a treat for fans of Vaughan, King or both. What it shows is that rock knows no age, gender or race. It just respects passion.

Because there’s a great deal of passion at play in the footage. The two are caught in the importance of the moment, but it’s to their credit that they don’t let the passion overwhelm them. Instead, the work creates a sense of priority as the two humbly come together under one banner. And in their own way, they understand the situation better than the audience does, keeping eyes on the others fretboard.

What it boasts is a sense of history and place, as within a decade of the release, both men were dead, leaving a legacy of tremendous skill and purpose. The precision of the fretboard was striking, but so was the delivery. Like King said, it’s not all about speed, but it’s also about stealth and soul. In its own way, the soulful blend of two distinctive voices showed how capable they were.

Individually, they aspired for grandeur, and together they plunged themselves into the bosoms of greatness. Ultimately, the footage exhibits a sense of story, glamour and history, wrapping it under one tremendous banner.

From beginning to end, the footage screams potential, and such is the power of the work, the rush of adrenaline from the music is paramount to the importance of the work in of itself. For the viewer, it isn’t the song that makes the delivery, but the urgency and the feeling of the track that leaves an emotional mark on the audience in question.