STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN AND DOUBLE TROUBLE-THE COMPLETE EPIC RECORDINGS.

STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN AND DOUBLE TROUBLE-THE COMPLETE EPIC RECORDINGS.

2015 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s death. He was, without doubt, one of the most influential electric blues guitarists ever. Sadly, Stevie Ray Vaughan only enjoyed seven years in the spotlight. 

Stevie Ray Vaughan came to prominence after his performance at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival. After his performance on the 17th July 1982, Stevie Ray Vaughan career was transformed. 

Ever since Stevie Ray Vaughan had dropped out of high school in 1971, he had been playing the blues. Having played in a series of bands, Stevie’s break came when he started playing with Marc Benno’s band The Nightcrawlers. After The Nighcrawlers, Stevie played with Danny Freeman in The Cobras. For Stevie, this was all part of his musical apprenticeship. Then in 1977, Stevie Ray Vaughan went from sideman to bandleader, when he formed Triple Threat Revue.

Triple Threat Revue would later become Double Trouble. This came about, when Stevie Ray Vaughan brought onboard the rhythm section of drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon. It was with Double Trouble at his side, that Stevie Ray Vaughan announced his arrival at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival.

That night, at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble announced their arrival. Stevie, playing vintage guitars, eschewed the use of effects. Effects were used sparingly during his performance. While Stevie turned his back on effects, he and Double Trouble liked to crank the sound up. To do this, they combined a series of amplifiers. This made the audience sit up and take notice. What they saw was a a blistering, virtuoso performance. By the time Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble left the stage, at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival their star was in the ascendancy.

Eleven months later, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released their debut album Texas Flood on Epic. It sold over two million copies, and was certified double platinum. This was the start of the rise and rise, of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. 

It’s documented in The Complete Epic Recordings, which was released by Epic. The Complete Epic Recordings is a twelve disc box set, that, without doubt, is the most comprehensive retrospective of The Complete Epic Recordings. It documents the seven year period, where Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble could do no wrong. This seven year period began with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s performance at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival and their debut album Texas Flood, right through to 1989s In Step. By then, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble had sold eight million albums. The story begins in November 1982.

 TEXAS FLOOD.

Before they signed to Epic, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble headed to Jackson Browne’s recording studio in Los Angeles. Between 22nd to 24th November 1982, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble recorded ten tracks that would become their debut album, Texas Flood. 

At Jackson Browne’s recording studio, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble hooked up with engineer Richard Mullen. He would co-produced Texas Flood with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

Texas Flood featured ten tracks. Five were penned by Stevie, who also cowrote Dirty Pool with drummer Doyle Bramhall. Along with covers of Howlin’ Wolf’s Tell Me and Buddy Guy’s Mary Had a Little Lamb, these tracks became eventually become Texas Flood. 

On the first of the three days at Jackson Browne’s recording studio, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble spent setting up their equipment. The next two days, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble recorded what would become Texas Flood. Now all Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble needed, was a label to release Texas Flood.

In early 1983, Epic signed Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Epic having heard the master tapes of Texas Flood, decided it needed remastered. So, a $65,000 advance was given to remaster the recordings. The advance also allowed Stevie to lay down his vocals at Riverside Sound in Austin, Texas. Then on June 13th 1983, Texas Flood was released.

On Texas Flood’s release, it was mostly, well received by critics. No wonder. Stevie Ray Vaughan was easily, one of music’s most exciting guitarists. However, Rolling Stone magazine and Robert Christgau, forever the contrarians, weren’t won over by Texas Flood. This didn’t affect sales of Texas Flood, which reached number thirty-eight in the US Billboard 200. Having sold two million copies, Texas Flood was certified double platinum. Following the success of Texas Flood, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble headed out on a gruelling tour.

On 20th July 1983, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble found themselves in Toronto. That night, they played at The El Mocambo. The concert was broadcast live, with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, billed as a A Legend In The Making. 

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble made their way through eight tracks. They were a mixture of original tracks and cover versions. Tracks from Texas Flood and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s sophomore album Couldn’t Stand the Weather, sat side-by-side. These eight tracks were a tantalising taste of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble live, and are a very welcome addition to The Complete Epic Recordings. Following the concert at The El Mocambo, the tour continued, before Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble returned to the studio in January 1984. 

Couldn’t Stand the Weather.

Just like Texas Flood, Couldn’t Stand the Weather, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s sophomore album Stevie penned half the tracks. He wrote four of the eight tracks. The other four tracks were cover versions, including a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child (Slight Return). These eight tracks were recorded at The Power Station, New York.

Over nineteen days at The Power Station, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble recorded Couldn’t Stand the Weather. Producing Couldn’t Stand the Weather, were Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Richard Mullen and Jim Capter. From the minute Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble laid down their cover of Tin Pan Alley, it was obvious to those in the control room that, here was a band at the top of their game.

That proved to be the case. On the release of Couldn’t Stand the Weather, on 15th May 1984, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s fusion of blues rock, electric blues and Texas rock, won friends and influenced people. This included the programmers at MTV. They put the video for Couldn’t Stand the Weather on heavy rotation. For Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble this meant their music reached a much wider audience.

Then when critics heard Couldn’t Stand the Weather, it received widespread critical acclaim. So, it’s no surprise that Couldn’t Stand the Weather reached number thirty-one on the US Billboard 200 charts. This resulted in Couldn’t Stand the Weather being certified platinum. It seemed that Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble could do no wrong. 

Soul To Soul.

In March 1985, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble returned to the studio. This time, they headed to the Dallas Sound Lab.  Between March and May 1985, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble recorded  the ten tracks that became Soul To Soul. 

For Soul To Soul, Stevie only penned four of the ten tracks. They were Only Say What, Ain’t Gone ‘N’ Give Up On Love, Empty Arms and Life Without You. Drummer Doyle Bramhall contributed Lookin’ Out the Window and Change It. The other tracks were cover versions, including Willie Dixon’s You’ll Be Mine and Earl King’s Come On. Just like Texas Flood, Soul To Soul was co-produced by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble and Richard Mullen. Soul To Soul would be released on September 30th 1985. Before that, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble made a triumphant return to where it all began, the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Three years after making their breakthrough at 1982s Montreux Jazz Festival, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble returned to where it all began. They played a storming ten song set. That night, just like three years earlier, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble had the audience enthralled. Here was the most exciting blues band in the world. Since their Montreux debut, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble had sold four million albums in America alone. Before long, four would become five.

On the release of Soul To Soul, it was well received by critics. Soul To Soul received the same critical acclaim as their two previous albums. Change It, one of two singles released from Soul To Soul, found flavour with MTV programmers. Despite this, Soul To Soul wasn’t as big a commercial success as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s two previous albums. 

On the release of Soul To Soul on September 30th 1985, the album reached number thirty-four in the US Billboard 200 charts. In Canada, where Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s two previous albums were certified platinum, Soul To Soul was only certified gold. This was a troubling time for Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

Live Alive.

After the release of Soul To Soul, it would be four years before Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released another album. During this period, Stevie’s appetite for drink and drugs couldn’t be sated. After breakfast, Stevie would begin his daily diet of a quart of whiskey and a quarter ounce of cocaine. This was Stevie’s daily diet. It would’ve killed most people. Not Stevie. He continued to record and play live. One of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble live performances was released in July 1986, as Live Alive.

Live Alive was a double album recorded during 1985 and 1986s Live Alive tour. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble swagger their way through fourteen tracks on Live Alive. Despite his chaotic lifestyle, Stevie was still one of the best blues guitarists of his generation. Backed by the tightest of rhythm sections, Stevie unleashes a series of blistering performances. Whether it’s original songs or cover versions, they come alive in Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s hands. As a result, critics and record buyers were won over by Live Alive.

Most critics gave Live Alive positive reviews. A few critics disagreed. However, that’s not surprising. Live albums always divide opinion. Not record buyers. When Live and Alive was released in July 1986, it reached number fifty-two in the US Billboard 200 charts. Although this was the lowest chart placing of any Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble album, Live Alive was certified platinum in America and Canada.  This would be the last album Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble would release for three years.

In Step.

By the time Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble returned with their fourth album, In Step, Stevie was a changed man. Gone was the hard living, wild man, with the insatiable appetite for drink and drugs. This was reflected in some of the songs on In Step.

For In Step, Stevie only wrote two tracks, Travis Walk and Riviera Paradise. However, Stevie cowrote four tracks with Doyle Bramhall. This included Wall of Denial and Tightrope, which reflect Stevie’s newfound sobriety. Along with covers of Willie Dixon’s Let Me Love You Baby, Buddy Guy’s Leave My Girl Alone and Howlin’ Wolf’s Love Me Darlin,’ these songs became In Step.

Recording of In Step began on January 25th 1989 and lasted right through to March 13th 1989. Further sessions took place at Kiva Sudios, Memphis, and then in Los Angeles at Sound Castle and Summa Studios, where Double Trouble and Jim Gaines co-produced In Step. Once In Step was finished, it was released on June 6th 1989.

Little did anyone know, but In Step would be the final album Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble would release. Less than a year later, on August 27th 1990, Stevie died in a helicopter crash. In Step was their swan-song.

When In Step was released on June 6th 1989, what would be Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble swan-songs, was well received. In Step’s fusion of blues, rock and soul was perceived as an incredibly honest, personal and autobiographical album. This appealed to record buyers. 

On In Step’s release, it reached number thirty-three in the US Billboard 200 charts. This resulted in In Step being certified double platinum in America, and platinum in Canada. That meant that since 1983s Texas Flood, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble had sold eight million albums. Sadly, In Step was the final Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble album released during Stevie’s lifetime.

Tragedy struck for Stevie Ray Vaughan on August 27th 1990, when he died in a helicopter crash. Stevie was only thirty-five. That day, music lost one of its most talented and charismatic sons. That’s apparent on the three live albums released after Stevie’s death, that feature in The Epic Recordings.

In the Beginning.

The first of these live albums was In the Beginning. It featured a recording of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble recorded in Austin Texas, on April 1st 1980. In the Beginning is tantalising taste of a band finding, and honing their sound. 

On In the Beginning, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble work their way through nine tracks. They’re a mixture of cover versions and Stevie Ray Vaughan originals, including Slide Thing, Love Struck Baby and Live Another Baby. The result was a taste of what was to come from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

Two years after Stevie’s death, In the Beginning was released on October 6th 1992. It reached number fifty-eight on the US Billboard 200 charts, and was certified gold. Five years later, Live At The Carnegie Hall was released.

Live At The Carnegie Hall.

Having already released two live albums from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Live At The Carnegie Hall made it three. 

Live At The Carnegie Hall, was a recording of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble from October 4th 1984. This was the day after Stevie turned thirty. As a result, the set list features fourteen of Stevie’s personal favourites, which he dedicated to friends and family. During the set, a stoked up Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble are at their best. 

The best way to describe Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble performance on Live At The Carnegie Hall, is celebratory. With their friends and family in attendance, their eager to please. This shines through throughout Live At The Carnegie Hall, which was released on July 29th 1997.

On its release on July 29th 1997, Live At The Carnegie Hall reached number forty on the US Billboard 200 charts. This resulted in Live At The Carnegie being certified gold. However, this wasn’t the last live album from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. 

Live At Montreux 1982 and 1985.

Epic released the SRV Box Set on November 21st 2000. It reached number 148 in the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold. So a year later, on November 20th 2001, Epic decided to release Live At Montreux 1982 and 1985. However, lightning didn’t strike twice, and Live At Montreux 1982 and 1985 stalled at 178 in US Billboard 200. That’s a great shame, as Live At Montreux 1982 and 1985 features two of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s best live performances. That’s apparent when you listen to the two concerts in The Complete Epic Recordings. They’re a reminder of just how good a band Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble were.

That’s despite it being twenty-six years since Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released their final studio album, In Step. Having gotten himself clean, after years of hard living, the future looked bright for Stevie Ray Vaughan. Sadly, tragedy struck and Stevie died in a helicopter crash on August 27th 1990. Stevie was only thirty-five. That day, music lost one of its most talented and charismatic sons. As a result, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble-The Complete Epic Recordings is a celebration of one of the greatest modern bluesmen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, who for seven years, could do no wrong.

STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN AND DOUBLE TROUBLE-THE COMPLETE EPIC RECORDINGS.

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