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Some great chops

Dirty Pool
Dirty Pool
By Melvin Taylor

Evidence Music: 1997

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Smokin' NOT! Jokin'
Smokin' NOT! Jokin'
By Osee Anderson

D'Lotis Records: 1996

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These reviews first appeared in the September 13, 1997 edition of the American Reporter.

Stevie Ray's dead, but we can't let him go. It's that whole Hendrix phenomenon – we spend more time anguishing over our fallen musical heroes than the ones still here with us. And so while the masses are out buying the latest Stevie Ray Vaughan posthumous release, no doubt sending it double platinum years after he died in a plane crash, many equally talented – or at least very close – guitarists will be lucky to sell 50,000 units each.

Which would drive even Stevie Ray crazy – he knew what it was like to toil in obscurity for years before getting his break and never forgot his roots. So in memory of Stevie Ray Vaughan, here are a couple guitarists overlooked by the mainstream media but deserving of attention:

     ~ ~ ~

Melvin Taylor's sound might at first sound a bit derivative of Vaughan – at least until you sit back and realize that, in fact, he and Stevie Ray came up at the same time, with Taylor's first album released before Vaughan's.

His release, "Dirty Pool," though, is much more in Vaughan's Texas style that Taylor's earlier releases – with hints of all the previous Texas bluesmen who inspired and influenced Vaughan.

Taylor goes so far as to cover two Vaughan compositions – the title cut and "Telephone Song" – plus another by Vaughan writing partner Doyle Bramhall ("Too Sorry"). And he's good enough and got balls enough to pull it off.

He's at his best during his breakneck solos – and there're too few of them on this album. At a slower pace, Taylor remains one of the best guitarists on the scene – but it's less personalized than his high-octane stuff that's been featured on earlier releases.

Too, Taylor's singing is off here – it sounds almost as if he's trying to sound like Stevie All of which adds up to make this CD seem a bit flat in comparison to his other recordings. Still and all, Melvin Taylor is one of the hottest blues guitarists around.

     ~ ~ ~

Osee Anderson is still probably better-known than Taylor. While his latest CD is on a small, independent label, Anderson gained a fair share of fame in the early and mid-1980s as second guitarist in Lonnie Brooks' band. Anderson committed the unpardonable sin of repeatedly stealing his boss's thunder, though, and he's been solo ever since – to much less success, frankly.

Like Taylor, on his latest release Anderson gives a nod to Vaughan – dedicating his scintillating cover of Muddy Waters' "Country Boy" to the late Texas bluesman. (And what a version of "Country Boy" – Anderson's lengthy solo is one of the best guitar licks you'll ever hear. Anywhere. By anyone.)

But stylistically, Anderson is far less like Vaughan than Taylor's latest CD. He's much more in the Buddy Guy/Otis Rush school of Chicago blues. Few effects, no fancy stuff – just some of the most riveting straight-ahead electric blues on the planet.