As Double Trouble, bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton have been everything a classic rhythm section should be: tasteful, selfless, and steady. It’s been enough to not only inspire countless Stevie Ray Vaughanabees but also warrant their own album and more than a dozen high-profile admirers to play on it. But the real surprise is that Been a Long Time is neither fully star-driven nor guitar-oriented. Instead the emphasis is on the songs—half of which the duo had a hand in writing—from “Turn Toward the Mirror,” Double Trouble’s reunion with the Arc Angels’ Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton, to “Baby, There’s No One Like You,” a remarkably commanding ballad featuring Dr. John’s vocals and an instantly recognizable Willie Nelson guitar solo. Even material performed by relative newcomers Susan Tedeschi, Jonny Lang, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd is just as sharp and expansive, and traditional Texas blues fans will relish Jimmie Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton’s duet on Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “In the Middle of the Night.” Although the unlisted 36-second snippet of previously unreleased S.R.V. that closes the album might serve as a nice reminder of the tie that binds so many of the guests, it’s an unnecessary throwback. As the producers, song-writers, and bandleaders behind a blues album this cohesive, Double Trouble shouldn’t be looking anywhere but straight ahead.
From the February 2001 Issue Subscribe