Fabulous Thunderbirds
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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The Fabulous Thunderbirds continued the "blues revival" of the Sixties well into the 1980s of the new wave and of punk-rock. While based in Texas, they updated the concept of the roadhouse band for an international and sophisticated audience that had long forgotten the "southern rock" fad of the 1970s.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds were formed in 1975 by singer Kim Wilson (born in Detroit, raised in California), the first virtuoso of the harmonica since Paul Butterfield (but ispired by Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson), and by guitarist Jimmie Vaughan (who had been playing the Dallas bar circuit since 1963), a disciple of T-Bone Walker, They were discovered by Muddy Waters in person and debuted with Fabulous Thunderbirds (Takoma, 1979), an album still in the tradition of their idols with a few Wilson originals. What's The Word (Chrysalis, 1980) was an improvement in the writing department that yielded funny and driving numbers such as Los Fabolous Thunderbirds and Running Shoes. Butt Rockin' (Chrysalis, 1981) added Fran Christina's drumming (a former Roomful Of Blues) and delivered an even better set, with I Believe I'm In Love and One Too Many.

Their sound revved up on T-Bird Rhythm (Chrysalis, 1982), influenced by the pub-rock of Nick Lowe, They recorded the quintessence of swamp-rock in Can't Tear It Up Enuff, and entertained with the colorful vignettes of How Do You Spell Love, You're Humbuggin' Me and My Babe.

Tuff Enuff (Epic, 1986) returned them to a more American sound, halfway between Bo Diddley and ZZ Top, with Tuff Enuff (but the most famous song from that album was a cover, Sam & Dave's Wrap It Up).

Hot Number (Epic, 1987) is mostly an attempt to capitalize on their success. Stand Back and Hot Number repeat the previous album's style. An injection of soul (Wasted Tears) and rockabilly (Don't Bother) aim at a more commercial sound.

Powerful Stuff (Epic, 1989) follows suit, shifting the emphasis from blues-rock (Rock This Place is the exception, not the rule) to soul and funk (Now Loosen Up Baby, Knock Yourself Out).

Jimmie left the T-birds and joined brother Stevie Ray to record Family Style (Epic, 1990) just months before Stevie Ray was killed in a helicopter accident.

The T-birds replaced Vaughan with Roomful Of Blues' Duke Robillard and released one last album, Walk That Walk (Epic, 1991), and then Wilson launched a solo career with two minor albums, Tiger Man (Antone's, 1993) and That's Life (Antone's, 1994). The T-Birds reformed (with Kid Ramos taking Vaughan's place) and released Roll Of The Dice (Private, 1995).

To hear again the great T-birds sound one has to listen to Jimmie Vaughan's solo Strange Pleasure (Epic, 1994).

Hot Stuff (Epic) is an anthology of 1986-1991 only.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Lorenzo Bragagnolo)

I Fabulous Thunderbirds continuarono il "blues revival" degli Anni Sessanta fino agli anni '80 della new wave e del punk-rock. Sebbene fondati in Texas, essi aggiornarono il concetto della band da roadhouse per un pubblico internazionale e sofisticato che aveva dimenticato da lungo tempo la moda del "southern rock" del Settanta.

I Fabulous Thunderbirds furono formati nel 1975 dal cantante Kim Wilson (nato a Detroit, cresciuto in California), il primo virtuoso dell'armonica dai tempi di Paul Butterfield(ma ispirato da Little Walter e Sonny Boy Williamson), e dal chitarrista Jimmie Vaughan (che suonava nei bar di Dallas dal 1963), discepolo di T-Bone Walker. Furono scoperti da Muddy Waters in persona e debuttarono con Fabulous Thunderbirds (Takoma, 1979), album ancora nella tradizione dei loro idoli con pochi originali di Wilson. What's The Word(Chrysalis, 1981) aggiunse la batteria di Fran Christina (gia` nei Roomful Of Blues)e svilupparono una tendenza migliore, con I Believe I'm in love e One Too Many.

Questo sound ando` su di giri con T-Bird Rhythm (Chrysalis, 1982) influenzato dal pub-rock di Nick Lowe. Essi registrarono la quintessenza dello swamp-rock in Can't Tear It Up Enuff il quadretto colorato di How Do You Spell Love, You're Humbuggin'Me e My Babe.

Tuff Enuff(Epic, 1986) li fece tornare a un sound piu` americano, a meta` tra Bo Diddley e ZZ Top, con Tuff Enuff(ma la piu` famosa canzone di quest'album era una cover, Wrap It Up di Sam&Dave).

Hot Number(Epic, 1987) e` per lo piu` un tentativo di capitalizzare sul loro successo. Stand Back e hot Number ripetono lo stile dell'album precedente. Un'iniezione di soul(Wasted Tears) e rockabilly(Don't Bother) mira ad un sound piu` commerciale.

Powerful Stuff (Epic, 1989) segue l'esempio, spostando l'enfasi dal blues-rock (Rock This Place e` l'eccezione, non la regola) al soul e al funk (Now Loosen Up Baby, Knock Yourself Out).

Jimmie lascio` i T-birds e si uni` col fratello Stevie Ray per registrare Family Style (Epic, 1990) pochi mesi prima che Stevie Ray fosse ucciso in un incidente in elicottero.

I T-birds rimpiazzarono Vaughan con Duke Robillard dei Roomful of Blues e realizzarono un ultimo album, Walk That Walk (Epic, 1991), quindi Wilson si lancio` in una carriera da solista con due album minori, Tiger Man(Antone's, 1993) e That's Life(Antone's, 1994). I T-birds si riunirono (con Kid Ramos al posto di Vaughan) e realizzarono Roll Of The Dice(Private, 1995).

Per ascoltare il grande sound dei T-birds bisogna ascoltare il solo di Jimmie Vaughan Strange Pleasure (Epic, 1994).

Hot Stuff(Epic) e` un'antologia solo del periodo 1986-1991.

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