- Audio CD (October 27, 2014)
- Original Release Date: October 27, 2014
- Number of Discs: 12
- Format: Box set
- Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
- Label: Sony Legacy
- Run Time: 626 minutes
- ASIN: B00MJFQ24W
- Average Customer Review: 55 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,403 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
The Complete Epic Recordings Collection
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To celebrate what would have been the 60th birthday of Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954-1990), Epic Records/Legacy Recordings will issue Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble: The Complete Epic Recordings Collection, collecting the trailblazing blues guitarist s most scintillating studio and live works.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble: The Complete Epic Recordings Collection includes the group s original four studio albums, five electrifying live releases (including the commercial debut of A Legend In The Making Live At The El Mocambo, a rare Canadian radio promo album) and a double-disc set of killer studio outtakes from throughout Stevie Ray Vaughan s incredible career, including recordings from previous reissues, box sets and posthumous compilations.
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The box's claim that this is a "complete" set of SRV recordings requires qualification. This box contains all of the official, stand-alone studio and live SRV/Double Trouble albums released on the Epic label (Family Style not included, since it's technically a duet album). The collection is enhanced by the inclusion of a new, exclusive live set, Live at the El Mocambo, as well as a pair of catch-all discs (the Archives) that include all of the selections on The Sky is Crying, as well as other, various odds and ends. However, this is not a truly complete collection of every single track released under the Epic/Legacy/Sony umbrella. A good chunk of what is on the 2000 Sony box, "SRV," is not present here. Also, a fair number of the extra tracks presented on the expanded 1999 editions of the studio albums are not offered here, including the scant few post-In Step live tracks in the catalog. The 1983 Philadelphia and 1984 Montreal live sets on the Legacy editions of the first two studio albums? Nope. "Taxman" from the Greatest Hits collection? Guess again. Granted, even with the sets that are present, there's a good degree of repetition of individual songs. If Sony really had included everything that had ever been officially released, it might have been too much of a good thing. (Although "Taxman" would have been a sensible and welcome inclusion on the Archives discs.)
One of the strengths of this set is it presents whole albums in their entirety, rather than mixing them up. Whereas the "SRV" box mixed live and album tracks willy-nilly, this set will allow listeners to delve into each album as desired. The set also presents the discs in roughly chronological order (except for the Archives discs, which pull from throughout Vaughan's recording career; also, the 1985 Montreux set was recorded between the Carnegie Hall set and Soul to Soul, even though it is the third disc in this box). Listening to this box from beginning to end will give the listener a near-total immersion into Vaughan's evolution during his all-too-brief time as a recording artist.
The mastering of the studio albums is excellent, but again, that requires qualification, since the studio albums feature the same Vic Anesini masters used for the 1999 expanded editions of the albums. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Anesini did a great job with those masterings. Unlike the trend on so many commercial CDs of the last two decades, he didn't limit/compress the heck out of them. They all have excellent dynamics (see below) and EQ, and even hold their own when compared to the later MFSL SACD releases, which are the gold standard for audiophiles in this catalog. Odds are, new masterings wouldn't have improved anything, so it's just as well Sony didn't try to fix what wasn't broken. Still, if you have the 1999 CDs and were considering upgrading to this set for sound quality reasons, you might want to think twice.
The sound quality of the live albums is necessarily variable. Some sound very good, although all of them are at least listenable enough to appreciate the performances. While I don't have previous editions of all of the live albums in this set, the ones I do have do not sound much, if any, different. Therefore, I presume the existing masters were used when compiling this set.
In all, this is an excellent, immersive set, even if it isn't "complete" in the technical sense. Die-hard collectors will no doubt find it essential for the inclusion of the Live at the El Mocambo disc. Whether more casual fans will find enough unique material here to warrant the purchase will obviously vary per the individual. Regardless, this set encapsulates Stevie Ray Vaughan's career in a way no other set has. Turn it on, listen, rejoice in what was, and lament what never came to be.
For detail geeks, here are the DR values for each disc:
Disc 1, In the Beginning: DR 11
Disc 2, Live at Montreux 1982: DR 12
Disc 3, Live at Montreux 1985: DR 12
Disc 4, Texas Flood: DR 13
Disc 5, Live at the El Mocambo: DR 14
Disc 6, Couldn't Stand the Weather: DR 12
Disc 7, Live at Carnegie Hall: DR 9
Disc 8, Soul to Soul: DR 13
Disc 9, Live Alive: DR 12
Disc 10, In Step: DR 14
Disc 11, Archives 1: DR 11
Disc 12, Archives 2: DR 13