Maurice John Vaughn's 1984 debut set, Generic Blues Album, came packaged in a plain white jacket, its title unceremoniously stamped on its front like a package of no-brand rice on a grocer's shelf. It looked like the cleverest of publicity ploys, but in reality, it was a simple economic necessity -- Vaughn's own Reecy label was operating on a shoestring.
Vaughn is no longer a blues unknown. With a challenging 1993 album on Alligator (In the Shadow of the City) melding blues, soul, funk, and other contemporary influences, he's grown into one of Chicago's most interesting and versatile younger blues artists. Fluent on both guitar and sax, Vaughn played both in sideman roles prior to stepping out on his own. Sax came first. Vaughn grew up on Chicago's South side, blowing his horn with various R&B groups and recording with the Chosen Few for Chi-Sound Records in 1976. When sax gigs grew scarce, Vaughn began to emphasize his guitar skills. Blues guitarist Phil Guy recruited him and his band for a 1979 Canadian tour, and the genre appealed to him. Vaughn later held down sideman spots with Luther Allison, Son Seals, Valerie Wellington, and A.C. Reed.
Alligator Records retained the no-frills packaging when it reissued Generic Blues Album after Vaughn sang "Nothing Left to Believe In" on the label's 1987 anthology The New Bluebloods. In the Shadow of the City came in 1993. Vaughn toured sporadically following the release, sometimes playing in schools for kids who had never heard the blues before. He left the road to work as an A&R man for Appaloosa Records, producing records by the likes of Maxine Carr and Shirley Johnson. He also did some session work playing on two albums by Detroit Junior. In 2001, he finally released his next album, Dangerous Road. Despite the cover art on his first LP, there's nothing generic at all about Maurice Vaughn's brand of soulful blues. ~ Bill Dahl