Welcome to the first instalment in a series that I’m calling EPIC GUITAR. A series to appreciate epic guitar playing. Rude Mood by Stevie Ray Vaughan is the first song I’m showcasing in this series. A track that’s performed at a blistering 264 beats per minute which dates back to the early 80s. 1983 to be specific. Rude Mood was the sixth track on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ultra-famous and successful debut album, Texas Flood which is the album that’s home to my personal favourite Stevie Ray Vaughan track Pride and Joy. But that’s another story.
This balls to the wall blues shuffling almost shred like showcase of blues lick mastery is a take-off of a Lightnin’ Hopkins song called Hopkins Sky Hop and is a track that would frequent Vaughan’s live performances. Sometimes, it would be performed slower, sometimes on acoustic guitar rather than Vaughan’s traditional strat, and sometimes it would be performed even faster if that’s even possible.
The first time I witnessed this song was on a YouTube video where Vaughan performed it alone during an interview and my reaction all those years ago is largely the same as it is now and that was something along the lines of “Jesus Christ”. Upon experiencing Rude Mood, my brain will always flash back to that scene in the film Deliverance (no, not THAT scene) where the protagonist, despite being a guitar master like myself, can’t keep up with the banjo kid and can do nothing but look on with amazement.
This is a very remarkable instrumental blues shuffle for sure. It’s impressive in a multitude of ways for example, the lead guitar from start to end, but is it remarkable in EVERY way?
Stevie Ray Vaughan Rude Mood – Is Structurally basic?
Rude Mood is a blues 12 bar blues shuffle. It’s a bloody fast as hell one, but it’s a 12 bar blues shuffle with zero deviation. There’s nothing wrong with that. I love a 12 bar blues shuffle but I guess one criticism that one could throw in the direction of this track is that it’s structurally basic and despite the crazy licky licks, it could be interpreted as quite predictable in terms of direction and phrasing. This would perhaps be an over simplistic summary of the song but it’s legitimate if people see it as repetitive.
Is it repetitive?
4 minutes and 39 seconds. That’s quite a lot of 12 bar sets at this speed and when you couple this with the fact that the song is instrumental, there’s bound to be some spots that have the déjà vu feel to them. I guess the question is really this. Does Mr Vaughan do enough to make Rude Mood interesting from start to end?
For the most part, yes. I do end up feeling the fatigue toward the back end in all honesty, but for me, I think there’s enough subtle variation in there. There’s a lot of what you’d expect in there but the track is clearly moving in a forward direction and very quickly rather than simply sprinting on a treadmill. That said, I think this journey could have been made even more interesting. Maybe less subtle injections of variation would appease people like me who think they know best and I think those less subtle developments would feel right at home in, but not exclusively in the backing section and an example would be further development dynamically both in the front and back end. We do get this this around the two and a half minute mark but it isn’t insanely dramatic.
Is this just a blues shuffle shred exhibition?
I’d say that Rude Mood by Stevie Ray Vaughan feels like one great big long guitar exhibition rather than a songy song and whether or not that’s for you is down to personal preference. Personally, I like both a good guitar exhibition and an instrumental songy song with a melody and all that stuff. Just depends what mood I’m in.
Right now, I guess I’m in a rude one because despite the slight issue with repetitiveness, this one floats my boat. I think the driving and commanding guitar has enough personality. There’s plenty of colour and character in there for sure. But is the lead guitar good enough to qualify this as epic guitar? Isn’t it just fast blues licks?
Come on. It’s impressive. I don’t think you need me to tell you this. Some of those licks are just simply mind blowing.
Is the impressiveness down to the pace of the performance? Sure. That’s fair. The tempo is definitely a major factor in Rude Mood’s impressiveness but the speed isn’t the only factor.
The licks could perhaps be seen as a tad predictable in some places but at the high end, this is virtuoso stuff and like I said earlier, there’s a clear path. I’d say the lead guitar in Rude Mood ranges from adept to master but remember, this isn’t just a bunch of licks squished into sets of 12 bars. It does more than that.
I guess a couple of extra crazy turns on this journey would have made the things more adventurous but I don’t know how much more my admittedly gigantic brain could have taken and sometimes when that happens, the music looses that established vibe and the more I think about it, the more I think that Rude Mood is for the most part perfect.
The fluidity and the fact that everything sticks and ties together like the phrases are held together with elastic is extremely impressive. We move from one lick to the next seamlessly. It really is quite something and it’s very hard to match.
To us mortals, Rude Mood is a showcase of blues brilliance guitar playing wise but to Stevie Ray Vaughan, it seems like another day at the office. Could he have done some overtime? Maybe. But when you’re so efficient at your job, I suppose you don’t need to.
Rude Mood is just under 5 minutes of almost blues shuffle perfection and no, making the song shorter does not solve anything and come to think of it, I don’t think there is anything I’d change about Rude Mood. Nothing major at least. It’s powerful and in your face and I love it. Maybe a tiny sprinkle of extra stuff could have taken it from almost perfect to perfect but you know what this is? It’s a foundation. If any musician ever wants to create a blues shuffle instrumental, Rude Mood is the benchmark and you’ll have to be something special to top it.
Are you a guitarist? If so, you may be interested in my Pride and Joy TAB and guitar lesson. Perhaps the best Stevie Ray Vaughan song you could learn and a nice challenge too.
Hello. My name is Ryan J Mellor and I play the guitar. I’m also the creator of Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. I’ve ben a guitarist for many years and my guitar playing has been described as “above average”. My guitar and music knowledge is somewhat impressive but most importantly, I have a passion for creating great guitar and music related content.