DeadSplinter Up! All Night: The Desert Island Album

Stevie Ray Vaughan appears on almost any list of the top 10 greatest guitarists of all time and is my personal favorite. It’s hard to believe that he died 30 years ago in a helicopter crash (whenever he flew, SRV used to joke darkly that he was taking “the Otis express”). He was only 35 years old and had so many more years to contribute his artistry to the world. He did what many legendary musicians have the capacity to do: take a bunch of disparate influences and merge them together to make his own sound.

This capacity for merging influences really started to show when SRV and Double Trouble released their second album, “Couldn’t Stand the Weather.” Their first album, “Texas Flood,” was essentially a straight blues album (it was, in fact, the demo they used to shop to the labels and when they signed with Epic and were handed over to producer John Hammond, it was decided to release the demo as the album after a few tweaks and overdubs). “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” brought out blues, rock, and jazz; pulling from the sounds of Albert King, Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker and Charlie Christian. It was also the first album in which SRV started to experiment with his guitar sound. By the time he recorded “In Step,” his guitar sound was the result of feeding his signal through more than 30 different amps–what the engineer referred to as “The Wall of Doom.” However, his sound wasn’t quite so complex in “Couldn’t Stand the Weather,” which allows for the listener to pick up certain sounds, such as the Leslie cabinet, which is typically used with the Hammond organ:

Fun fact about “Cold Shot”: they recorded this track at 4:00 am, which is why Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton’s shuffle has such a lazy feel.

If you listen closely under headphones, you’ll hear the slow spin of the Leslie in “Tin Pan Alley”:

In other tunes, he really cuts loose with the Marshall stacks:

The original release of the album closed with him expressing his inner Charlie Christian:

Fran Christina, the drummer for Jimmie Vaughan’s band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, played drums on “Stang’s Swang” (because Chris Layton was passed out on the studio couch and Fran was hanging out), but Layton was originally a jazz drummer before joining up with SRV. This is evident in the title track:

In 1999, Epic’s Legacy label re-released all of the original SRV & DT albums which included previously unreleased tracks. One of the new tracks on “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” was a screamin’ cover of Hound Dog Taylor’s “Give Me Back My Wig.” In an interview shortly before his death, SRV talked about possibly releasing an album entirely devoted to slide guitar. There are scant few recordings of his slide playing available, but this track shows us just how awesome that album would have been:

This is my Desert Island Album. The one album that I can listen to over and over and over again, and never get tired of it. The track selections, theoretically, shouldn’t work together, but these guys made it a masterpiece. I was fortunate enough to see him perform live approximately a month before he died and it was a revelation.

What’s your Desert Island Album?

Thank you for your continued support of DeadSplinter.

About butcherbakertoiletrymaker 546 Articles
When you can walk its length, and leave no trace, you will have learned.


  1. I Love Stevie & as I mentioned before saw him 6 mos. before his death with the Thunderbirds opening.  I was 7th row center!  My desert island album though is Fishbone’s Truth & Soul.  Every song on that album is totally different, has great thought provoking lyrics and I never get tired of (which is something I can’t say about many other albums).  I can’t even pick one favorite song from that album so I will just play two totally different ones. This has my all time favorite bass line.

    and this one could be talking about our situation today, some things never change…


    • Never saw the T-Birds, but have seen Jimmie play a couple of times.
      I haven’t heard Fishbone before, so I’m definitely putting this album on my Spotify list.  Thanks for playing our game today!

      • I’ve seen the T Birds but never SRV.

  2. Excellent first DUAN! It doesn’t seem like 30 years have passed because it all still sounds so fresh. I can’t pick a desert island album. I keep changing my mind. But here’s some Nighthawks for you

    Nine Below Zero





    • Thanks for the vote of confidence.  I was worried that it might have been too long and in the weeds, but ultimately I could write 5,000 words on that album and his career without trying–so this was as restrained as I could get:)

      • Not too long. I enjoy hearing the thoughts of a genuine fan. 

      • There is no such thing as “too long” of a DUAN. This is a great DUAN post. Thank you.

    • Thanks for sharing, again, this DUAN post with us.

  3. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity

    This has been in heavy rotation since it came out 4 years ago.

    • I love this band!

    • Good choice. Their sound has really evolved into something different since that album.

  4. Excellant post. Good question.  I have quite few desert island albums. Rather than pulling old school ( stuff by the Talking Heads, or even older, CSNY), here are two newer ones with very different styles.
    Hiss Golden Messenger

    And The Avener


  5. and something for this DUAN.
    Harry Belafonte – Island In the Sun

  6. Nice DUAN, @butcherbakertoiletrymaker. SRV is, to use an overused phrase, a national treasure, in every sense of the phrase.
    I’m in brain freeze trying to think of my desert island tracks. SO MANY music needs I have and can’t pick one so I’ll just leave a shout out here for a damn good DUAN.

  7. btw. great post butcher! you hit it out of the park!

    The Builders and The Butchers – Black Dresses

  8. is it bad i didnt know stevie was all dieded?
    well..fuck…ima have a sad now….
    heres another dude that plays guitar too well 

    • addink

      anyhoo…ive put meself in a much less musically sound mood

      *wrecks everything*

    • Surfing with the Alien spent a ton of time in my CD player until I got Flying in a Blue Dream!  Satriani blew me away & still does!


      • And this is some of the best metal/blues guitar I’ve ever heard

        • i think blind guardians guitarists should be on the awesome list too

          they are seriously good

    • I mean…it’s kind of bad. But you’re a great source of music for my playlist so I’ll let it slide;)

      • Our news station in Hawaii would only play Satriani during weather & sports, it was awesome!!!  It is perfect background music for driving, surfing, football hits, whatever!  

  9. It’s a tough choice. And different from my favorite album. I’m going to go with Quiet Fire by Roberta Flack. She does some great songs on this album.

    Go Up Moses – Roberta Flack

  10. If I had to pick a record that I would never get tired of, in which I always discover new details, it would be The Complete Recordings of Tony Bennett & Bill Evans.  It’s extremely rare that two artists of this caliber collaborate in such a minimal setting at the absolute peaks of their artistic powers.  Bennett is the epitome of the saloon-singer and Bill Evans plays these American Songbook standards as if they were Scriabin.  Even the alternate takes are absolute perfection.

    • Love these guys and this is a great album.  I’ve always felt badly about Bill and how his life went.

  11. Great post Butcher!! 

  12. This is a great DUAN post and an excellent choice. SRV is one of my faves too.
    My desert island record of his would be Live at Carnegie Hall, though, for the guest spots from his brother and Dr. John and closing it out with a couple of sweet doodles.

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