Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble – Couldn’t Stand The Weather – Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab – Stereo-only SACD UDSACD 2075, 38:13 ****:
(Stevie Ray Vaughan – guitar, vocals; Tommy Shannon – bass; Chris “Whipper” Layton – drums; Jimmie Vaughan – guitar; Fran Christina – drums, Stan Harrison – tenor saxophone)
Following up a critically praised debut is a daunting task. Texas Flood launched the career of Stevie Ray Vaughan. Considered by some to be an extended demo tape, the raw power captured the intensity of this new blues hero. Having been dubbed a groundbreaking artist, the expectations for a new studio album were lofty. In 1984, Vaughan and Double Trouble spent nineteen days at the Power Station in New York, recording Couldn’t Stand The Weather under the watchful eye of veteran producer John Hammond. Critics were divided on the merits of the sophomore effort. Some labeled the project “more of the same”, while others hailed it as better than Texas Flood.
Consisting of eight cuts and clocking in at a brisk thirty-eight minutes, Couldn’t Stand The Weather serves notice that Stevie Ray Vaughan is no fluke. The jagged intensity and visceral emotion are evident on the covers and original material. Starting off with an instrumental (a gutsy move), “Scuttle Buttin” erupts in a surge of fiery guitar licks that burn for the duration of the song. Perhaps the most recognizable tune, “Cold Shot” is transformed into a signature SRV vehicle. Laying down wicked blues grooves on guitar, Vaughan’s vocals are subtly menacing and reinvent the W.C. Clark lament. The title track is quintessential Double Trouble. Interspersed with signature brash hooks are nimbly syncopated breaks that express a unique approach to a traditional genre.
There are some unexpected moments. Vaughan covers Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” in faithful homage to the original version. On the subsequent tour to support the album, this song became a centerpiece of the show, and was nominated for a Grammy. The incendiary guitarist had demonstrated prior flashes of jazzy intonation, and “Stang’s Swang” expresses a deeper feel for composition and tempo. Included is a rare tenor saxophone solo (Stan Harrison), suggesting a future change in style. Late night blues flow in a steamy rendition of Guitar Slim’s “Tin Pan Alley (AKA Roughest Place In Town)”. Brother Jimmy (who would go on to play with The Fabulous Thunderbirds) adds rhythm guitar to “The Things (That) I Used To Do”. Double Trouble has transformed their sound into a modern blues context.
Mo-Fi continues their tradition of utilizing their special technology (Gain 2 System) to re-master original recordings. The sound quality is excellent and the ragged tones of the electric guitar are preserved without too much distortion. The bass and drums are clear and not buried in the mix. If Couldn’t Stand The Weather is another helping of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, then it is a most welcome one.
TrackList: Scuttle Buttin’; Couldn’t Stand The Weather; The Things (That) I Used To Do; Voodoo Chile (Slight Return); Cold Shot; Tin Pan Alley (AKA Roughest Place In Town); Honey Bee; Stang’s Swang
— Robbie Gerson