It’s hard to believe that twenty years has passed since the
tragic death of Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was stolen from us far too soon on
August 27, 1990 after the helicopter he was traveling in following a sold-out
concert in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin, crashed mere seconds after takeoff.
Indeed, there are many strong opinions about the Texas guitar slinger and
his role in the modern blues lexicon. Yet whether you love him or hate him, you
cannot deny his importance one of the primary gatekeepers of the purity of his
craft throughout the 1980s alongside fellow young gun Robert Cray – especially
at a time when the likes of such previous concierges of AOR blues as Eric
Clapton, Johnny Winter and the late Rory Gallagher were fully succumbing to the
slick studio excesses of the Reagan era.
And if you were to ask any SRV fan worth his or her salt what the man’s
best album would be, sure as shit they’ll point you directly to 1984’s Couldn’t Stand The Weather. Vaughan’s
sophomore gem with his faithful backing band Double Trouble showcased a
tremendous amount of growth for the then-30-year-old guitarist as both a player
and a performer, especially for the short period of time between Weather and his 1983 studio debut Texas Flood-clearly evident in the way
by which Stevie expertly handles such staples as Guitar Slim’s “The Things
(That) I Used To Do” and, of course, his scorching revival of Jimi Hendrix’s
“Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”, not to mention the eternally funky title cut,
arguably the best original song in his cache.
In honor of the 20th anniversary of Vaughan’s untimely passing, Epic-Legacy offers up this generous
deluxe edition, which expands the original 38-minute, eight-song LP to a
massive 31-track double album containing a heavy helping of studio outtakes and
an entire concert from the group’s 1984 tour across the US. Fans of Stevie’s
posthumous 1991 collection of odds and sods, The Sky Is Crying, will undoubtedly recognize several of the studio bonus
cuts right off the bat. But while the covers of Lonnie Mack’s “Wham!”,
Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and Willie Dixon’s “Close To You” all carried over from
the initial release of Sky, the
versions of “Boot Hill” and the Elmore James staple that served as the album’s
title track are both previously unreleased. Also of note are the early
renditions of “Empty Arms”, Earl King’s “Come On” and Hand Ballard’s “Look At
Little Sister”, all of which would later turn up on 1985’s Soul To Soul album, as well as a stripped-down version of the Weather instrumental “Stang’s Swang”.
Meanwhile, the second disc of this Legacy Edition contains
the whole late show from SRV’s two-set stand at The Spectrum in Montreal,
Quebec, from August 17, 1984, where you will find some solid live versions of
the majority of Couldn’t Stand the
Weather along with great turns through such classic Stevie nuggets as
“Testify”, “Love Struck Baby” and “Pride and Joy”.
Who knows where Stevie Ray Vaughan would be heralded had he
lived to see 2010. But regardless of whether he would have gotten down with the
likes of Jack White or Jonny Lang, the fact that his indelible mark can be felt
in the electricity of both disparate parties is a true testament to his
unflappable greatness as one of the genuine legends of contemporary blues.
DOWNLOAD: “Couldn’t Stand the Weather”, “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”, “Cold Shot”, “The
Sky Is Crying”, “Little Wing”, “Texas Flood (live)”, “Pride and Joy (live)” RON