Ben Vaughn review…April 5, 2018….

BEN VAUGHN

INSTRUMENTAL STYLINGS

BAR NONE RECORDS

AQUA BLUE–GUMPSTUMPER–ENFERMO–PIPE BOMB–ALDENTE–BATTERY ACID–HEAVEN ABOVE–TOESTUBBER–SNAKE PIT–DREADNAUGHT–HYDROPLANE–TAROT READER–DESCAFEINADO–CONSTELLATION DRIVE–ILLUSION–STRETCH LIMO (BONUS VOCAL TRACK WITH DEAN WEEN)

Ben Vaughn’s CD from 1995, “Instrumental Stylings,” ended up serving as his “screen test,” if you will, for future employment endeavors, and influenced his career in ways he never imagined.  This CD now finally sees its release on vinyl, with a download card featuring some cool bonus tracks.

We grew up in an era when instrumentals ruled the airwaves, from “Rumble,” to “Green Onions,” on thru “Little Wing” and beyond.  Ben, on this set, played all the instruments himself, and the varied sounds and styles he puts on this album was just what Caryn Mandbach was looking for the first time she heard some of these cuts on the radio.  Ben was hired by Mandbach to create instrumentals for a sitcom in development at the time, which would become “Third Rock From The Sun,” seeking a sound akin to “rock and roll as played by aliens!”

On this varied collection, Ben touches on pop, surf, twang, blues and even the “spaghetti western” sound implemented by Ennio Morricone.  Leading off is one of those cuts, the spaced-out, trance-like, “Aqua Blue,” and, on “Enfermo,” one might expect a visit from the cigar-chomping Man With No Name.  “Toestubber” is an amped-up slice of rockabilly twang, while “Descafeinado” uses samba-esque Latin rhythms as its theme.  Our favorite was “Gumpstumper,” a wild, harp-driven country-blues shuffle with a zydeco background, and the set closes with the lone vocal cut from Dean Ween, the Doomsday-ish, “I don’t need no Stretch Limo to play no rock and roll!”

The really cool thing about Ben Vaughn’s “Instrumental Stylings” is that, as you listen, you’ll swear you’ve heard some of these songs before.  That might well be the case, as Ben not only worked on music for “Third Rock,” but also “That 70’s Show,” and other Carsey-Werner projects as well.  This group of instrumentals, unbeknownst to him at its 1995 inception, set him on a lifetime journey of brilliant composing and musicianship!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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