Stevie Ray Vaughan: Couldn’t Stand the Weather (Legacy Edition)

RIYL: Indigenous, The Arc Angels, Eric Johnson

Couldn’t Stand the Weather was Stevie Ray’s second album and many fans consider the 1984 classic to be his best work. It’s full of the pioneering Texas blues virtuoso playing that made Stevie Ray famous. Now the new Legacy Edition expands the album with a slew of additional tracks, plus a second disc featuring most of the songs performed live in Montreal during the band’s 1984 tour.

The live disc absolutely smokes, making this package a big winner. Adding this to the remastered album makes this release the go-to disc for any newcomers who might wonder where to start with SRV. From the scintillating “Scuttbuttin’” opener to the epic title track to the smoldering cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” the album is just one classic after another. Then you have Stevie Ray branching out with a variety of blues styles throughout the rest of the album. Another cover, “Come On (Part III)” updates Hendrix’s cover of the blues classic and it plain smokes.

Then you get into the live disc where Stevie Ray was in his true element. But it’s also here that the Double Trouble rhythm section of drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon demonstrate what a lean, mean rhythm machine they were. They’re tight in the studio, but they really step up in the live setting. The band comes out guns blazing on “Testify,” which immediately conjures visions of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, where not only was Jimi ripping it up, but Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding were often going for broke as well. There’s a reckless yet focused abandon that Stevie Ray and Double Trouble display like perhaps no other power trio has since the Experience.

“Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” gets an almost 12-minute workout here that is worth the price of admission, as does the 10-minute “Tin Pan Alley.” The latter is more of a straight blues, but features Stevie Ray delivering some of his finest old-school playing. The gorgeous ballad “Lenny,” that SRV dedicated to his lady, also receives an epic 11-minute workout. The entire release is a worthy expansion of this classic album. (Sony Legacy 2010)


Santana: Supernatural, Legacy Edition

RIYL: Eric Clapton, Dave Mathews Band, Ozomatli

This Legacy Edition re-release of Santana’s 1999 smash-hit, Grammy Award-winning Album of the Year ups the ante by remastering the original album and adding a second disc of bonus tracks that should delight any fan of the original. The bonus disc has outtakes, remixes and unreleased material with several of the same guests from the original album. There’s also a 24-page booklet with rare photos and a 2,000 word essay by Hal Miller on the album’s creation and significance.

The remastered original sounds great, with Santana’s hot, melty licks singing through the mix of warm bass, dynamic percussion, horns, vocals – the guitar legend is a Jedi Master at weaving his lines into a song without stepping on anyone else. Songs like “Put your Lights On” with Everlast and “Smooth” with Rob Thomas received so much airplay that some people may never want to hear them again. But this shouldn’t overshadow the other great tracks on here.

“(Da Le) Yaleo” features Santana wailing at his best, no pop restriction here. “Love of My Life” with Dave Matthews and Carter Beauford is a soulful gem that makes you wish DMB would add a lead guitarist. For those that don’t care for Matchbox 20, “Africa Bamba” is a beautiful track that is truly smooth, without the pop sheen. Lauren Hill & Cee-Lo help Santana explore hip-hop flavor on “Do You Like the Way,” but it’s “Maria Maria” with the Product G&B that really has classic staying power. With its catchy hooks, soulful vocals and mix of both acoustic and electric virtuoso guitar, it’s no surprise that this tune is the one that’s still a mainstay in Santana’s live repertoire. “Wishing It Was” with Eagle-Eye Cherry is another tune that continues to resonate with deeper substance than the bigger radio hits, with its contemplative lyrics and memorable licks. Underrated closer “The Calling” is an epic blues with Santana and Eric Clapton trading licks on a great finale.

One of the highlights of the bonus disc is “The Calling Jam,” also featuring Clapton, and one of seven previously unreleased tracks out of the 11 on the disc. A cover of Cuban band Irakere’s “Bacalao Con Pan” has smoking leads in a Latin rock setting, while the single “Angel Love (Come For Me)” features a horn section and Santana playing sweet leads behind the vocals. This is something most guitarists don’t know how to do. They should listen to Carlos to learn. “Rain Down on Me” with Dave Matthews and Carter Beauford might even be a better song than their collaboration on “Love of My Life,” with Dave singing in a bluesier vibe that resonates well with Santana’s guitar. “Exodus/Get Up Stand Up” is a hot tribute to Bob Marley, while a cover of Lighthouse’s 1971 hit “One Fine Morning” is another high-energy winner. “Maria Maria (Pumpin’ Dolls Club Mix)” provides an alternate dance-oriented approach, while “Corazon Espinado (Spanish Dance Remix)” offers another take on the original album track with Mana.

There’s an uplifting spiritual vibe throughout both discs, along with a great diversity of material and some of Carlos’ most tasteful playing. All of which makes this set a definitive keeper. (Sony Legacy 2010)