Couldn’t Stand the Weather will forever be known as Stevie Ray Vaughan’s sophomore album, and it’s judged accordingly. After the trailblazing Texas Flood, some critics felt Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble didn’t challenge themselves enough on the follow-up. That didn’t stop the album from being a success. It also contained a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” that deserves to be on the shortlist for any discussion about the best rock covers of all time. For Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Couldn’t Stand the Weather really should be considered their proper debut album.
Texas Flood is rightly hailed as a game-changing album in blues and rock. Vaughan harnessed years of shadowing his brother Jimmie and absorbing music by the likes of Albert King, BB King and Albert Collins. The ferocious sound Vaughan unleashed was heavily loyal to blues legends of old, but elements of rock couldn’t help but surface. Yet drummer Chris Layton admits in the liner notes of the album’s Legacy Edition that for all purposes, Texas Flood was a bunch of songs collected to showcase the band at its best. In essence, a demo.
With Couldn’t Stand the Weather the band had the three things most struggling bands strive for: money, time devoted exclusively to recording (the band spent six weeks in a New York City hotel room while recording) and a great producer (John Hammond). Since Couldn’t Stand the Weather has been released, a remastered version was released in 1999, and now a Legacy Edition is available with a bonus disc that features a live 1984 recording in Montreal.
These types of reissues have their allure. The packaging is usually first-rate, and its slightly bulky nature (a little more than the size of two CDs) makes it a great item to display on a bookshelf. With these albums, it seems like they deserve to be set aside from your other CDs in a sort of “hall of fame” location. The liner notes are usually written by people with intimate knowledge of the recording sessions or by a skilled writer who can convey the impact of said album. Finally, there’s an extra disc of material.
For most, this bonus disc of material will be the deciding factor in getting a deluxe or remastered edition of an album, especially if the original album quality didn’t need retooling. For the Legacy Edition of Couldn’t Stand the Weather, the producers played it safe and relied on a live recording from Montreal during a time when the band was just transferring from clubs to venues. The live recordings feature three jams that clock in at or near 10 minutes: “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”, “Tin Pan Alley”, and “Texas Flood”.
The first disc contains six new tracks, all of which appeared later on The Sky Is Crying. The title track to that album is heard in a more stripped-down form, recorded before Vaughan broke into the majors, battled substance abuse, released a successful comeback album and was in the process of evolving as a songwriter. It’s a great snapshot at Vaughan at his most inspired.
Couldn’t Stand the Weather is a purchase that borders on essential for Stevie Ray Vaughan fans and fans of blues-oriented rock in general. While other Legacy Editions have eked out bonus material (hint – if you see the words “remix” next to a duplicate song, chances are the producer is stretching), Couldn’t Stand the Weather‘s bonus material in every way equals and sometimes surpasses its source material.