I was first treated to this man's music a couple years after the far too sudden death of Stevie Ray Vaughan. SRV died on my birthday in 1990 and that was the WORST birthday I've ever endured.
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One night, a few friends and I were in a hole-in-the-wall club called Jack's Sugar Shack in the Robertson District of LA and this man started playing his guitar. I remember freezing in mid-sentence and becoming glued to this man's guitar prowess. I felt as if I was in the presence of a reincarnated SRV. Moments later, I caught a glimpse of the man. He actually dressed like SRV and sounded like SRV. I was blown away because he filled a live music void that I thought I had lost forever.
You see, I had purchased tickets to see (what turned out to be) SRV's last L.A. concert but sold them to friends because I had to work - thinking I'd see SRV another time. If only I had known what was to happen.
As I write this review, I'm taken back to that club in the early 1990s and remember how amazing I thought Corey Stevens and his band (Texas Flood) were that night. I'm a little surprised that he never really made it big as he seems to have drifted off into musical obscurity though they still tour and have put out nine CDs from 1995 to 2010 (so far).
"Gone Too Long" (4:36) 4.5 stars
After a 44-second groovy guitar-based intro set to percussion that sounds eerily similar to SRV's "Cold Shot", you're treated to the first example of just how similar Corey Stevens' voice is to Stevie Ray Vaughan. The similar yet gruff Texas drawl set among the band's groovy and pulsating rhythm will have you saying the same thing I did - "Man, they sound just like Stevie Ray and Double Trouble." "Been gone too long with all the ups and downs. Been through all kinds of pressure puttin' out that Texas sound. Hey I love to get by from Soul to Soul, with old fashioned potions I didn't want you to know. Everything that I put myself through, everything... I did it for you. Been gone too long."
"Blue Drops of Rain" (4:44) 3.5 stars
The title song of the CD and its mid-tempo meandering falls a bit flat for me. It's not bad, it's just not as dynamic as other songs. In fact, the track sounds very much like a Steve Winwood anthem heavy on the organ riffs.
"Crosscut Saw" (3:39) 3.75 stars
One part Bossa-nova and one part Honky-Tonk ditty that will have you tapping your toes and banging things with sticks. "I'm a cross-cut saw, baby drag me across your log. I cut your wood so easy for you, you can't help but say hot dog. Some call me wood-cuttin' Sam, some call me wood cuttin' Jim. Last girl I cut wood for wants me back again." Originally composed by R.G. Ford.
"I Got a Rich Man's Woman" (3:54) 4 stars
A sumptuous slow Blues tune. "The woman, she's livin' on a poor man's pay... I bought my baby a Cadillac, she said oh that's just a common gift. When she pass me on the streets, she refused to give me a lift. I said I work hard on two jobs and make overtime every day. I got a rich man's woman, but the woman she's livin' on a poor man's pay." Lawd have mercy! Originally composed by RJ Welsh.
"It's Over" (5:24) 4 stars
A slow Blues medley. "Hey baby, I fell really hard for you. Didn't know what I was gettin' into, didn't know how to make the right moves. I really needed you. You see, baby, there's another woman in my life. I never told you a thing, couldn't find the words to explain, that's it's over." A breakup song - Blues style.
"Back in Time" (3:00) 3.75 stars
A trip down memory lane set to a Honky Tonk medley complete with golden guitar riffs and a little "waa waa peddle" thrown in for good measure. "I wanna go back in time, to the first time I laid eyes on you. I wanna go back in time, back to the place I first met you. Won't let you go, now baby, because I know it's fun to do."
"I'll Play the Blues" (3:48) 3 stars
Here's another flat song in my opinion - complete with tambourine accents. This track just drones along at a mid-tempo pace but never really grabs me. The only reason I don't hate this track is due to the cool guitar riffs. It's just a song that seems to get me high because I'm just in a daze during its duration. Originally composed by Jerry Beach.
"Lenny" (5:19) 5 stars
By far - the best track on the CD even though it's an SRV song. A glorious instrumental slow Blues anthem that builds to an almost orgasmic crescendo and then eases back into its own afterglow as if it wants to cuddle you afterward. Chock-full of sumptuous guitar riffs, groovy bass licks and perky percussion. It's like a porn film's soundtrack for Blues lovers.
"The Brothers" (5:01) 3 stars
Here's a perky 1980's Folksy tune that's, again, Steve Winwood in style but with a little more upbeat jive to it. I get the feeling that it was written for Stevie Ray and his brother rather than Corey and his brother. It's an odd little ditty and a little too removed from the Texas Blues style I expected from this collection.
"Headshrinker" (3:47) 4.5 stars
For me, the second best track on the CD. A playful toe-tapping ditty - while Corey opens up to a psychiatrist and bartender. "You know I think it all goes back to my relationship with my momma. I never could communicate with that woman. And my daddy? All he ever did was work. He never took me to no ballgame. He never took me to no father & son dinner down at the boy's club. My little brother? Man, that cat got everything. They bought him a $5,000 grand piano and all they ever bought me was this old beat-up guitar." A fun tune. Originally composed by Gary Tanner/Eric Bikales.
"Goin' Crazy" (3:25) 3.75 stars
A nifty yet somewhat frenzied guitar anthem with a backdrop of pulse-pounding percussion and driving bass that gets a bit monotonous in my epinion. "Now there's one thing that you gotta do, you gotta listen to me say, I'm goin' crazy for you. Nobody else can do, nobody else but you."
Released by Eureka Records in 1995, Blue Drops of Rain is Corey Stevens' first CD of nine (thus far) - his last being in 2010. I had high hopes for Corey Stevens but I guess the general public won't allow a copycat even though the man and his band have stand-alone talent.
If you like your Blues with a slice of Texas Rock and if you like SRV, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jeff Healey, Jonny Lang and ZZ Top, you're sure to like Corey Stevens and Texas Flood.
Of the eleven tracks, three of them fall flat while the others are sure to add a spring to your step while cleaning the house. This CD is even better-suited for playing pool or shootin' darts.
Now I'm interested in hearing their most recent CD - to see how their sound has progressed in seventeen years.
BTW it should be mentioned that Texas Flood (not to be confused with another band from Germany with the same name) was (at the time of this CD):
Will MacGregor: Bass
Danny Grenier: Guitar
Dave Salinas: Drums & Percussion
Mike Finnigan: Organ
Great Music to Play While: Hanging With Friends