- You’ll find insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- One of the most blistering performances of electric blues we have ever had the pleasure of rocking out to
- Hands down the best sounding SRV recording — Little Wing is an absolute MONSTER on this White Hot side one and a Demo track to beat them all
- 4 stars: “Doing away with vocals, Vaughan augments Hendrix’s concise two-and-a-half minute original, turning the track into a nearly seven-minute-long electric tour de force. The cover would earn Vaughan his sixth Grammy, for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, in 1992.”
This is one of the most blistering recordings of electric blues-rock we’ve ever played. Few other records recorded in the ’80s have this kind of BIG, BOLD sound. Maybe none. The sheer impact and wallop of this music is a real treat, but only if you have the right pressing (and the right kind of stereo to play it on, of course).
Stevie’s take on Jimi’s Little Wing is the surest proof that SRV was one of the greatest Electric Blues Guitarists of All Time. I know of no other guitar showcase to compete with it. Sonically it’s a knockout, with one of the tallest, widest and deepest soundstages I have ever heard on record. It brings to mind Gilmore’s multiple solos on Money from the hottest Dark Side of the Moon pressings, high praise indeed. Little Wing deservedly won SRV the Grammy in ’92 for Best Rock Instrumental. Click on the Little Wing tab above to learn more.
And, if you want to here Stevie channel Wes Montgomery instead of Jimi Hendrix, take a listen to Chitlins Con Carne.
What the best sides of this Guitar God Classic have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1991
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.
Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.
And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.
What We’re Listening For on The Sky Is Crying
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals and guitar leads aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
The Sky Is Crying
May I Have a Talk With You
Close to You
Chitlins con Carne
Life by the Drop
AMG 4 Star Review
The posthumously assembled ten-track outtakes collection The Sky Is Crying actually proves to be one of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s most consistent albums, rivaling In Step as the best outside of the Greatest Hits collection. These songs were recorded in sessions spanning from 1984’s Couldn’t Stand the Weather to 1989’s In Step and were left off of the LPs for whatever reason (or, in the case of Soul to Soul’s “Empty Arms,” a different version was used).
What makes the record work is its eclectic diversity — Vaughan plays slide guitar on “Boot Hill” and acoustic on “Life by the Drop”; he smokes on the slow blues of “May I Have a Talk With You” and the title track just as much as on the up-tempo Lonnie Mack cover, “Wham”; and he shows the jazzy side of his playing on Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and Kenny Burrell’s “Chitlins Con Carne.”
But it’s not just musical diversity that makes the record work, it’s also Vaughan’s emotional range. From the morbidly dark “Boot Hill” to the lilting “Little Wing” to the exuberant tributes to his influences — Lonnie Mack on “Wham” and Albert King on “The Sky Is Crying” — Vaughan makes the material resonate, and in light of his death, “The Sky Is Crying” and the touching survivor-story ballad “Life by the Drop” are two of the most moving moments in Vaughan’s oeuvre.