Outside of Texas, Malford Milligan may not be a household name, but inside the Lone Star State, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t know who he is. He was a founding member of the Texas super group Storyville which included David Holt, David Grissom, bassist Tommy Shannon, and drummer Chris Layton of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble. He’s also earned his salt as an in demand session artist. His vocals are a cross between someone singing after smoking say, eight packs of Camel cigarettes, and someone singing as they ride atop a bullet train, leaning into the wind. It is glorious in a guttural, gravely, gritty way. It will move you.
Tyrone Vaughan is Texas royalty after a fashion: He is the son of guitar legend Jimmie Vaughan, and the nephew of guitar icon Stevie Ray Vaughan. He’s performed with the likes of Billy Gibbons, Doyle Bramhall, Doyle Bramhall II, (Little) Jimmy King, SRV’s Double Trouble, Pinetop Perkins, John Popper and Eric Gales. Vaughan joined Royal Southern Brotherhood in April of 2015, and played on two albums, Don’t Look Back: The Muscle Shoals Sessions, and The Royal Gospel.
There’s a whole heap of Texas steppin’ up with these two forces of nature throwing in together on MVP, out on Mark One Records. Fans will not be disappointed. The album is a mix of Texas soul, rock, and blues, with hints of jazz, and generous helpings of funk too.
The chemistry between Milligan and Vaughan is good and they work well together. There’s nine studio tracks here, and the album closes with two live tracks taken from their appearance at One 2 One in Austin during SXSW.
As usual we had favorites. “Soul Satisfaction” is the kind of soulful music that made Milligan a household name in Texas. Forget “Led Zeppelin VI, side 2” at the drive-in: just play this. (Yes, they still have drive-ins in Texas.) “Little Bit of Heaven” is some more of that delicious Texas soul that has been a staple of great Texas music for years now. “Driving You” is straight-up dance hall music at it’s best.
Other favorites include a stirring rendition of the Buddy Guy classic “Leave My Girl Alone” that both Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan had so much success with. “Compared To What” is an up-tempo number with a sweet ’70s flair and choice piano accents.
We really appreciated the guitar lines in “What Passes For Love” which recalled the brilliant guitar of Earl Slick on David Bowie’s 1974 cult classic, David Live. The album closer, Freddie King’s “Palace Of The King” has just enough ’70s to reel us in and enough Texas to keep us.
MVP made the hair on our neck stand up. It made us quiver and quake, stomp and shake. Don’t get caught without this album in the mix at your next party.
MVP by Milligan Vaughan Project
Label: Mark One Records
Running Time: 43:00