Live at Montreux 1982 & 1985 is a historically significant recording, presenting Stevie Ray Vaughan in the biggest show of his life to that date, then three years later, once he had become a star. The 1982 show is essentially the show that got his career started. He met both Jackson Browne and David Bowie after his set, and they were so impressed that Browne volunteered use of his studio (for free!) for Stevie to record what would become his debut album, and Bowie recruited him as lead guitarist for the Let's Dance album and tour (alas, the tour was not to be). However, not everyone was so impressed. In fact, there are choruses of boos that follow nearly every tune. Vaughan was basically a nobody at the time, playing very electric blues at the end of a mostly acoustic program. But he had done enough bar gigs to completely rise above it, and he plays with the passion and hunger of a young musician getting his big chance. He's not really an engaging frontman at this point in his career, but man, can he play that guitar. And he simply never lets up. Even at this stage, his tone and style are pretty close to fully formed, and it's easy to see how he could become the guitar hero he ended up being. The 1985 show is quite a contrast. Vaughan had become a star, and it shows in so many ways. He had developed more of a stage persona, with showier moves and infinitely more presence as a frontman. Double Trouble also now included Reese Wynans on keyboards, which, along with Vaughan's addition of a wah-wah pedal, really expanded the sound. Vaughan has many fiery moments on this set as well, but he also loses focus during several solos, and seems more than content to share or even hand over the spotlight to fellow Texas guitar legend Johnny Copeland. Vaughan seems a bit worn out, and it wouldn't be long before he got sober. Even so, there are clear moments of brilliance and this time the audience is fully behind him. Live at Montreux 1982 & 1985 is a vital document for fans, showing the raw ingredients that would make him a star, then comparing it to what happened once he got there. It's a great look at the rise of one of rock's most revered guitar players.
AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2