After the untimely deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman in the early 1970s, there was a huge void in American blues/rock guitarists. Johnny Winter notwithstanding, the best blues/rock guitarists of the period, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, were from England. America needed someone of their own.
Enter Stevie Ray Vaughan, who came into prominence in 1983. Born in Dallas and cutting his teeth in Austin, Vaughan’s debut album Texas Flood was met with instant critical acclaim. His powerful, emotive style re-energized the American blues rock scene, and we’ve all been greatly enriched from his enormous contribution. Sadly it was a short run, as Vaughan met his untimely death in a helicopter crash after concluding a concert with Eric Clapton in 1990.
SRV was an extremely dynamic and gifted live performer, and on the strength of his live recordings, his legacy has endured. His studio work is particularly impressive, perhaps peaking with his second album, Couldn’t Stand the Weather (1984). With Weather, SRV picked up where Jimi Hendrix left off. The comparison to Hendrix is profound and deep, as both were able to strike a deep emotional connection with their music.
Kicking off the album is a rocking instrumental “Scuttle Buttin’.” SRV is dancing up and down the guitar neck with blinding speed. The unmistaken SRV twang is evident from the get go. The 2nd cut from album and title track, “Couldn’t Stand the Weather,” also showcases Vaughan’s excellent guitar playing.
Check out the video..SRV in style with his scarf and trademark Texas wide brimmed hat. Ably backed up by his band, Double Trouble, SRV starts slowly and builds into a soaring solo (mixed with storm special effects) that emulates the approaching monsoon. An immovable force if there ever was one, and stamps SRV as a towering talent to be reckoned with.
But wait, there is more – a lot more. Vaughan channels Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” with elegant aplomb. Vaughan finds notes that nave not seen the light of day since Jimi died. Welcome back..the result is the quintessential essence of SRV. The raw emotion is evident as Vaughan and his guitar become one. It appeals to our most base instincts, and his performance is a definitive blues statement.
As BB King often says, “The blues is not just music, it’s a feeling.” And with SRV you feel the Blues in a way that few can replicate. Even when things slow down a bit with “Cold Shot,” it doesn’t matter… Vaughan masters the mood with great acumen. The solo is straight forward Texas Blues. You can feel the pain and longing.
Next up is a cover of the Jimmy Reed classic, “Tin Pan Alley.” Things slow down even more with an introduction that is spare and desolate. SRV says a lot with just a few notes. “Tin Pan Alley” is the baddest part of town, and Vaughan makes you feel it. His vocals are lonely and haunting, mixed perfectly with solemn instrumentation. This is one bad ass MF for sure. As a side note, Oscar award winning Director Martin Scorsese used this song on his documentary of the blues.
Stevie Ray Vaughan was on the scene for only seven short years, but his impact and contribution have catapulted him to the top echelons of all-time great guitarists. If you love the blues, you love Stevie Ray Vaughan. He is sorely missed, but he will never be forgotten.
“Scuttle Buttin'” – 1:52
“Couldn’t Stand the Weather” – 4:40
“The Things That I Used to Do” (Eddie Jones) – 4:55
“Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” (Jimi Hendrix) – 8:01
“Cold Shot” (originally credited to Michael Kindred and W. C. Clark; later incorrectly credited to only Michael Kindred) – 4:01
“Tin Pan Alley” (originally credited to Robert Geddins; later credited to James Reed) – 9:11
“Honey Bee” – 2:42
“Stang’s Swang” – 2:46