Couldn’t Stand the Weather
By the time STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN AND DOUBLE TROUBLE released their second album, COULDN’T STAND THE WEATHER, the Austin guitarist was in full-blown rock star mode, with a lot of the personal excess that overnight fame can bring. The new two-disc Epic/Legacy reissue, which includes numerous outtakes from the original sessions—most of which have appeared elsewhere—and selections from a full-length 1984 Montreal concert, reminds us that artistic excess was part of the package too. At the time, Vaughan was clearly starting to branch out musically. The tricky title track was his most impressive composition to date, and the superb slow blues cooker “Tin Pan Alley (a.k.a. Roughest Place in Town)” remains one of his finest recordings. Yet Vaughan’s greatest asset—the way he manhandled his instrument—was also his greatest failing. At times, Vaughan’s virtuosity lent an astonishing density to his improvisations. But when he stampedes over songs, like his cover of the old Guitar Slim classic “The Things (That) I Used to Do,” it seems wrong-headed to the point of parody. Nowhere is this more evident than in the amped-up Montreal concert. Flush with the success of his recent single “Cold Shot,” Vaughan is white-hot, but he’s also relentless; you’re 35 minutes in before there’s a bit of breathing room. Both musically and personally, it took Vaughan another couple of years to slow this runaway train, which gave him only a few great years before his early death.