Stevie Ray Vaughan - Couldn’t Stand The Weather (Mo-Fi) Album Review
David Price spins up this spectacular, premium pressing of a nineteen-eighties electric blues classic…
Stevie Ray Vaughan's Couldn't Stand The Weather
AUD $325 RRP
Had he not been killed in a helicopter crash on August 27th, 1990, it is possible that Stevie Ray Vaughan would have gone on to become blues music's greatest ever exponent. The raw talent he showed in his short thirty-five year life was dizzying – as a songwriter, vocalist and of course, a guitarist. Few players of this instrument have ever come anywhere close to matching Jimi Hendrix's technical virtuosity, but Vaughan nearly did.
One of the many things that made him special was his accessible style; you didn't have to be a stern disciple of electric blues to be struck by his musical genius. That was certainly the case with David Bowie, who, after seeing him perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1982, asked him to play on his forthcoming Let's Dance LP. Vaughan's second studio album Couldn't Stand the Weather is a testament to this – a riveting combination of blues and rock; it is edge-of-the-seat listening from beginning to end. Recorded at the Power Station in New York in 1984, it was released on May 15th of that year to moderate commercial success, reaching only No. 31 in the Billboard 200 chart. Perhaps the reason for this was that America's collective musical gaze was firmly fixed on the new wave of British synth-pop bands at the time…
Couldn't Stand The Weather took just nineteen days in the studio to record, with Vaughan's band Double Trouble beside him. The John Hammond production sounds excellent over three and a half decades later and far less dated than its album chart contemporaries like Madonna's Like A Virgin album, for example. It's clean and direct with a spacious and impactful feel. Vaughan penned many of the songs, and there's an impressive cover of Hendrix's Voodoo Child to add to the drama. It's a whirlwind of an album, infused from beginning to end with this great guitarist's self-assured performances and natural swagger.
This makes it an ideal candidate for Mobile Fidelity's Ultradisc One-Step treatment, which delivers a pretty much perfect pressing, superlative mastering and an appropriately expensive box to house the album in. A limited run of 7,000, this is, without doubt, the finest version of this Texas blues classic that I have come across. It's split between two discs, both of which are immaculately presented, and pressed on 180g virgin vinyl which incidentally – just like classic Japanese pressings – is slightly translucent when you hold the disc up to a light source.
Sonically, it's on another level to any other version of this album that I have come across over the years. The transparency, cleanliness and detail need to be heard to be believed, as does, of course, Mo-Fi's trademark tonal smoothness and warmth. Bass is bigger, the soundstage wider, and the treble sweeter – so what's not to like? The only downside is that instead of listening to the music, one can easily start obsessing on how much better the Mo-Fi sounds to lesser pressings of this album.
Whether you think this is good value at $325 is down to you. I suspect many analogue addicts will snap it up, seeing it as an object of desire for which sacrifices must be made. The Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs pressing of Couldn't Stand The Weather is a thing of beauty then, and ideal for the Stevie Ray Vaughan fan who's got everything – including a few bob!
David started his career in 1993 writing for Hi-Fi World and went on to edit the magazine for nearly a decade. He was then made Editor of Hi-Fi Choice and continued to freelance for it and Hi-Fi News until becoming StereoNET’s Editor-in-Chief.