In August 1990, Blues Rock Guitar Hero, Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash. His Double Trouble rhythm section of Tommy Shannon (bass) and Chris Layton (drums) were devastated and with SRV’s death, out of a gig.
They dealt with the pain by jamming. They called in guitar prodigy Charlie Sexton and another guitarist in Doyle Bramhall ll. Bramhall’s father, Doyle Bramhall, Sr. is also steeped in the blues, playing drums for Lightnin’ Hopkins and Freddie King. And Bramhall, Sr. also collaborated on songs with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan, who he knew since childhood.
The jam sessions took place at the Austin Rehearsal Complex. This is how the “Arc” in the band name is derived.
I heard “Living In A Dream” on Letterman and I thought it was Badlands via the sound, but the look definitely wasn’t Jake E Lee and Ray Gillen (RIP). But I couldn’t get their album, even though it was on Geffen Records. I suppose the year of 1992 didn’t help either.
“Arc Angels” is the self-titled debut album released in 1992.
Production is handled by Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul.
Living In A Dream
What an opening cut, with a feel of “When The Levee Breaks” and just think of “Stormbringer” played in a blues based way.
It’s written by Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton. They both share vocal duties and they put their guitar skills on display, riff wise and lead wise.
‘Cause there’s nothing wrong here
I’m just living, living in a dream
And sometimes we don’t want to escape that dream.
Written by Charlie Sexton and Tonio K, this song reminds me of the Roadhouse movie. You can imagine the band playing the song behind a Perspex cage to protect them from glass bottles.
Well now everything is rosy
And the money’s so well spent
This kind of education
Is worth every cent
When your momma pays the tuition
And your daddy pays the rent
You could learn a lot in college
Although you never went
Sometimes the silver spoon is not enough to satisfy.
Sent by Angels
Written by Doyle Bramhall II.
I like the Bad Company vibe on this. Black Crowes also comes to mind.
Written by Charlie Sexton and Tonio K.
The acoustic guitar riff reminds me of “Little Suzi” from Tesla. Even the titles are similar. The drum beat is more surf rock and Iggy Pop like than Blues Rock.
That ain’t her real name
But you know what I mean
I suppose every artist has a “Sweet Nadine” somewhere.
Written Doyle Bramhall II and Sammy Piazza, it’s got this Stevie Wonder “Superstition” funk rock happening, with a bit of “Play That Funky Music White Boy”.
I was hangin’ out with some friends of mine
Down in Hollywood just a-wastin’ time
I knew right then nobody could get me down
‘Cause I’m takin’ myself out on the town
We’re gonna have a good time
See What Tomorrow Brings
Written by Doyle Bramhall II and as soon as the opening arpeggio chords started I was interested.
At 6 minutes long, it’s hard to explain the song, a mixture of “Little Wing”, “Free Bird” and “With A Little Help From My Friends”, the Joe Cocker version. And when slow blues ballads are done right, they leave their presence with you. This song does just that.
Wait just long enough
See what tomorrow brings
What a great line. Patience is hard to attain, because its original meaning is “to suffer”. So to ask someone to “wait” is to ask them to be “patient”.
Always Believed in You
Written by Charlie Sexton and Tonio K. the cut could be interchanged with songs on a John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams or Don Henley album.
I was born back in the sixties
I was born and raised to win
We had beaten, beaten back the darkness
But somehow the darkness slipped back in
Truth right there. People thought that we had broken through the injustice and prejudice however people just doubled down into their echo chambers, percolating until they exploded again.
The Famous Jane
Written by Charlie Sexton and Tonio K.
It’s a mid-tempo rocker about heroin.
She was probably born in Hollywood in the era of the King
She hitchhiked Highway 61 and got elected Queen
She ended up on Bleeker Street down in the underground
And then somebody there called her sweet, and the story got around
The lyrics more or less sum up its possible introduction into Hollywood.
Written by Doyle Bramhall II, Charlie Sexton and Chris Layton. This is a great song with a similar riff and groove to “Living In A Dream”.
Everybody’s looking for a little bit of love
Not a lot of love being given
No one wants to be alone, but people associate companionship with love. But if love doesn’t happen, having a circle of friends to talk with, laugh with and go out with, is every bit good enough.
Carry Me On
Written by Doyle Bramhall II who brings out the Southern Classic Rock.
Shape I’m In
They bring out the Chuck Berry “Johnny Be Goode” feel on this cut, written by Doyle Bramhall II, Charlie Sexton and Marc Benno.
I tried so hard to get back in the race
I’d just be satisfied if I could place
There’s so much competition but the best don’t always win
I’m doing pretty good for the shape I’m in
Be you and don’t let the rat race dictate to you who you should be.
Too Many Ways to Fall
Written by Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon, Charlie Sexton and Tonio K.
This is another of those percolating blues rock tunes.
‘Cause there’s just one way that we can stand
Too many ways to fall
Truth right there.
The outro reminds me of what Pearl Jam would do.
The band didn’t last long. Geffen jumped into bed with Seattle, Bramhall’s heroin addiction was out of control and by 1993, the band broke up.
But we have this album.